The December job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are indisputably good. Net nonfarm jobs increased by 200,000 (up 1.9 million for the year), overall unemployment is down to 8.5%, and even the part-time numbers improved.
However, unemployment has not affected all demographics equally. The statistics below shed some light on who really has a good chance of getting a job now and who is still searching for a needle in a haystack.
Also, consider how we talk about labor statistics as a framing issue that we need to manage better. Other countries start job discussions with how many people have jobs (employed) and how this number relates to the total population. Besides being easier to measure, focusing on employment makes jobs statistics more relevant to the entire nation, including those who are working. If you are employed and you can see that the percentage of working people relative to the population has decreased, you can see that your burden has increased. The unemployed are your allies, and the question becomes, “how can we get more people into the labor force to share the burden of supporting the nation?”
In contrast, when you focus on unemployment, you tell a story of a group that has been marginalized away from the rest of us. Those without jobs are set aside in economic quarantine, complete with stigma. The unemployed are rivals after your job, and the question becomes, “”how can I keep from being one of them?”
|Total population||Dec 2010||Dec 2011||2011 change|
|Number unemployed||14.4 million||13.1 million||-1.3 million|
|Number employed||139.2 million||140.8 million||+1.6 million|
|Civilian participation rate||64.3%||64.0%||[statistically flat]|
|Employment to population ratio||58.3%||58.5%||[statistically flat]|
|Breakdown||Dec 2010||Dec 2011||2011 change|
|Men 20+ Unemployment rate||9.4%||8.0%||-1.4%|
|Employed||71.5 million||73.1 million||+1.6 million|
|Unemployed||7.4 million||6.4 million||-1.0 million|
|Participation Rate||73.6%||73.4%||[statistically flat]|
|Women 20+ Unemployment rate||8.1%||7.9%||-0.2%|
|Employed||63.4 million||63.3 million||-0.1 million|
|Unemployed||5.6 million||5.4 million||-0.2 million|
|Participation Rate||60.0%||59.5%||[statistically flat]|
|All 16-19 Unemployment rate||25.2%||23.1%||-2.1%|
|Employed||4.3 million||4.4 million||+0.1 million|
|Unemployed||1.5 million||1.3 million||-0.2 million|
|Participation Rate||34.3%||34.2%||[statistically flat]|
|White Unemployment rate||8.3%||7.5%||-0.8%|
|Employed||114.0 million||115.3 million||+1.3 million|
|Unemployed||10.3 million||9.3 million||-1.0 million|
|Participation Rate||64.5%||64.3%||[statistically flat]|
|Black Unemployment rate||15.2||15.8||+0.6%|
|Employed||15.1 million||15.2 million||+0.1 million|
|Unemployed||2.715 million||2.862 million||+1.5 million|
|Participation Rate||61.7%||61.8%||[statistically flat]|
|Hispanic Unemployment rate||13.0%||11.1%||-1.9%|
|Employed||20.0 million||20.7 million||+0.7 million|
|Unemployed||3.0 million||2.6 million||-0.4 million|
|Participation Rate||67.1%||66.8%||[statistically flat]|
- The unemployment rate for blacks increased while unemployment for every other group decreased.
- The number of employed men jumped 1.6 million (a 2.2% increase) while the number of employed women was flat-to-negative.
- Only about 1 in 3 teenagers 16-19 is employed, as compared to about 2 in 3 adults over 19.
- The total employed group of 140 million is supporting a total US population of 310 million, about 2.2 times its size.
|Education||Dec 2010||Dec 2011||2011 change|
|Less Than a High School Diploma|
|Employed||9.9 million||10 million||+0.1 million|
|Unemployed||1.9 million||1.7 million||-0.2 million|
|Total||11.8 million||11.7 million||-0.1 million|
|High School Grad/GED only|
|Employed||34.5 million||34.0 million||-0.5 million|
|Unemployed||3.8 million||3.2 million||-0.6 million|
|Total||38.2 million||37.1 million||-1.1 million|
|Some College or Associate Degree|
|Employed||33.9 million||34.3 million||+0.4 million|
|Unemployed||2.9 million||2.7 million||-0.2 million|
|Total||36.8 million||37.0 million||+0.2 million|
|BA/BS and higher|
|Employed||44.1 million||45.2 million||+1.1 million|
|Unemployed||2.1 million||1.9 million||-0.2 million|
|Total||46.3 million||47.1 million||+0.8 million|
- The most highly educated comprise the biggest group here, yet they still have the lowest unemployment rate on the chart.
- The least educated group is also the smallest, but they have the hardest time finding work.
- The current unemployment rate for college graduates is less than a third of the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma and less than half the rate for those with only a high school diploma.
- The two least educated groups contracted in size in 2011.
Financial writer, bookseller, strategic thinker, consultant, progressive activist, scifi geek, music lover, theater person, mastermind. B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara Cum Laude. J.D. University of Illinois. Member, California Bar. Would choose flight over invisibility but teleporting over both. Editor and contributing writer, FIX America, How Each of Us Can Help All of Us. Follow me on Twitter @buybk. Join me in progressive politics at www.planamerica.org