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Today’s young adults are more likely to have a college degree than their peers who came of age 30 years ago, but also are more likely to be unemployed and living in poverty than young adults in 1980, according to vast new census statistics released Thursday.

The data from the American Community Survey shows that 22 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 have a college degree, up from 16 percent in 1980. Yet 65 percent of today’s young adults are employed, compared with 69 percent in 1980. One in five young adults live in poverty, census officials said, compared with one in seven in 1980.

In California, 62 percent of young adults are employed, down from 71 percent in 1980, and 19 percent live in poverty, up from 15 percent in 1980, the data show.

The changing characteristics of the nation’s young people, called the millennial generation, reflect how the nation is changing, census officials said in releasing the statistics.

For instance, the percentage of young adults who are foreign born has more than doubled since 1980, from 6 percent to 15 percent. Nationally, one in four adults speaks a language other than English at home. The number is highest in California, where one in two adults speaks a language other than English at home.

The latest data comes with an easy-to-use interactive mapping tool that allows users to compare data on a statewide and regional level in categories ranging from income levels, educational attainment, commuting habits and more.


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