More high school grads head to college

New high school graduates are choosing college more than ever. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 70.1 percent of the class of 2009 high school graduates between the ages of 16 and 24 are headed to colleges - an historical high since the data series first began in 1959. The percentage is based on data from January-October 2009, and is an increase from 68.6 percent a year earlier. In 1999, the college enrollment rate was 62.9 percent.

Around 2.9 million students graduated from high school last year between the months of January and October. Of those graduates, 2.1 million were enrolled in university classes in October. The poor economy may be a factor in driving college enrollment, as more students are betting on a better education to land them jobs.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Most high-school graduates who didn't go on to college--70% of them--were either working or looking for work. Of those in college, 42.1% had a job or were searching for one. Many of those searching for jobs were unsuccessful. The 2009 high-school graduates who didn't go on to college faced a 35% unemployment rate. Those in college had a jobless rate of 23.7%, also showing the effects of a labor market that hasn't vigorously begun adding jobs.

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About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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