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JOBS WATCH: High Unemployment Rates Continue to Disproportionately Affect High School Dropouts

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“Many of my best friends graduated last year,” the article quotes Christina Haley, who just graduated from Marymount University in Arlington County, Virginia. “One out of five has a ‘career job.’ We all had seen a couple of years of people graduating and not finding jobs. It put the fear in us to start earlier, to pull strings so that we wouldn’t be stuck.”

High school dropouts are more than three times as likely to be unemployed than college graduates based on the May 2010 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released earlier this month. Overall, the unemployment rate inched down to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent in April thanks in large part to the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on the Census 2010.

The recession continues to disproportionately affect some groups of individuals more than others. For example, younger workers aged sixteen to nineteen (26.4 percent unemployment rate), African Americans (15.5 percent), and Hispanics (12.4 percent) were more likely to be unemployed that whites (8.8 percent). As shown in the chart below, 15 percent of high school dropouts aged twenty-five years or older were unemployed, compared to 4.7 percent for individuals in the same age range with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

 

Jobs Watch

Source: Employment status of the civilian population age twenty-five years and older by educational attainment (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm).

As college graduates from the Class of 2010 hit the workforce, the unemployment rate for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher could show a small uptick. However, as a recent Washington Post article points out, this year’s class of college graduates is benefiting from lessons learned by recent classes of college graduates who entered the job market during the recession.

“Many of my best friends graduated last year,” the article quotes Christina Haley, who just graduated from Marymount University in Arlington County, Virginia. “One out of five has a ‘career job.’ We all had seen a couple of years of people graduating and not finding jobs. It put the fear in us to start earlier, to pull strings so that we wouldn’t be stuck.”

According to the article, this year’s crop of college graduates has set their sights on simply getting a job instead of debating salaries and benefits. “They begged for internships. They hyper-networked and filed dozens of applications,” the article reads. “They often locked in on early offers rather than holding out for something better.”

The article cites a recent survey of about 13,000 graduating seniors by the National Association of College and Employees: nearly 40 percent received job offers and 59 percent of those students accepted them. Last year, 40 percent of seniors got offers but only 45 percent of them accepted. Consequently, about 25 percent of 2010 graduates said they had a job prior to graduation, up from about 20 percent from the year before.

As the article points out, not all seniors are accepting jobs or even going into the workforce. More 2010 graduates have taken the Law School Admission Test than graduates from the Class of 2009 while other graduates are going the public service route. According to the article, Teach for America, which recruits for hard-to-staff public schools, received a record 46,000 applications from the Class of 2010 and was the top employer at some universities.

Read “College Graduates Are Less Choosy as They Launch into Their Work Lives” at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/18/AR2010061805165_2.html.

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