The headline numbers and election analysis are all out – the latest unemployment numbers, while about where they were the month before, don’t do the Democrats a lot of good going into next month’s mid-term elections. But there are some interesting numbers underneath the headline numbers that paint a workforce mosaic that shows significant challenges to whoever ends up in Congress in the next round of elections.
Start with this fairly startling number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics today – the unemployment rate for black or African American teenagers (aged 16 to 19) eligible for the workforce is 49%. That’s up from 38% in May. The same age group among Hispanic or Latino ethnicity was at 31%. Unemployment for all teenagers in this age group is 26%.
If the future of America begins with its teenagers, then we seem to have on our hands a volcano that is about to erupt. Perhaps a related statistic worth mentioning here is the overall unemployment by levels of education. Not surprising, people without a high-school diploma are the largest unemployment group – 15.4%. High-school graduates who did not go on to college – 10% of them are unemployed. Some college or associate degree shows some improvement – 9.1%.
And those with a bachelor’s degree or higher? Only 4.4%.
Education and employment are certainly linked together. Now, teacher’s unions might want to use this as an argument that cutbacks in school budgets will lead only to more cratering in the workforce. While some of those cutback numbers are big (local government education employment is preliminarily projected to be down 49,800 jobs in September versus August on a seasonally-adjusted basis), school budgets have been historically padded. Companies have had to try to find smarter ways to work. Schools and other governmental agencies need to do the same thing. Be smart.