Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show unemployment remains at 9.6% and has been essentially unchanged since May. While that’s not good news, the unemployment rates by demographics tell a bleaker story for youth:
- adult men was 9.7%
- adult women at 8.1 %
- teenagers at 27.1%
A recent NPR Planet Money article illustrates these unemployment trends in three different ways—education, age, and gender. Unemployment by education levels might be of particular interest in encouraging your students to graduate from college. For each group in the NPR education chart, the unemployment rate has roughly doubled in the past few years. BUT for people with college degrees that means something radically different than for people who didn’t graduate from high school. The student who didn’t finish high school had the highest unemployment while the college graduate had the lowest percent of unemployment. Unemployment by age is also a critical statistic for your students. The 16-24 year-olds have the highest unemployment and the 25-55+ age group has the lowest unemployment.
The NPR articles notes that the recession has been harder on men than on women. This is due in part to the fact that industries staffed largely by men (construction) have been hit particularly hard, while other industries (education, health care) have fared better. As an educator, you might want to know more details about your state or region. For example, if your school is located in Michigan, where unemployment hovers at 13%, you might suggest that your graduates look for jobs in Maryland, where unemployment is around 7%.
Find these stats fascinating? The U.S. Department of Labor web site provides statistics on each state by race, sex, age, education, and more.
Most economists agree that the worst is behind us, according to an article in CNNMoney.com, and that new job creation will pick up modestly. “But worries about the slowpoke economy and the possibility of a double dip will keep companies from adding enough positions to make a serious dent in joblessness,” says reporter Anne C. Lee. The consensus among 46 forecasters recently surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics is that the 2011 unemployment rate will be around 9.2%, down from the current rate of 9.6%. “It’ll take another six years for unemployment to get back to pre-recession levels, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office,” writes Lee.
The encouraging news in the CNNMoney.com article is that America’s best employers to work for are hiring. Meanwhile, the draconian cost-cutting measures adopted during the downturn are becoming history: Nearly all companies that slashed their 401(k) match say they will have restored all or a portion of it by next summer, according to Towers Watson. Salary freezes are fading fast too, the Buck survey found. If you’re among the 14.8 million Americans who are still unemployed, however, 2011 continues to look bleak, but not hopeless. Though little new hiring is planned for the first half, openings should expand later in the year — as long as the economy encounters no major new setbacks.
If Congress passes a new stimulus for small businesses — most likely by making it easier for firms to borrow — hiring could exceed forecasts, according to the CNNMoney.com You can track the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at bls.gov. The forecasted pickup of 153,000 jobs a month on average (fewer than 150,000 early in 2011, as many as 175,000 late in the year) should bring the unemployment rate down to 9.2% by the end of 2011, which is good news for future graduates.
Today’s students want to create change but aren’t sure how to proceed. Often, they need you as educators to help them understand that there’s more than one way to have an impact. Change happens in the nonprofit sector as well as through new business models and government work, too.
Fast Company has a series on how different people symbolize the Change Generation. One of the recently featured members of that generation is Chad Bullock, Executive Director of helloCHANGE.org. Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, Chad saw the terrible results of cigarette addiction on friends and family, including his great-grandfather who died of lung cancer. After that, he decided to dedicate his life to anti-tobacco activities. He has led the successful charge to turn the Durham Bulls stadium into a smoke-free baseball bark and founded helloCHANGE, the largest youth-led anti-tobacco organization in the country. A graduate of Nyack College, Chad says, “I become very excited when I see young people realize the power they have. I think it’s becoming a growing trend to get out there and make change!” His work has changed him, too. “Today, I am more in touch with who I am as a person and feel confident about what’s to come.”
Another Change Generation person profiled on Fast Company is Marie Forleo of New Jersey, who has a finance degree from Seton Hall University. After trying jobs ranging from the New York Stock Exchange to Mademoiselle magazine, Marie decided to launch her own business as a life coach. She founded the Rich, Happy, and Hot brand dedicated to empowering women with tools to create financial, spiritual, and emotional wealth through entrepreneurship. With her Change Your Life, Change the World model, an investment in the RHH Virtual Mastery coaching program triggers an investment in social change. A portion of the program profit goes to women and girl-focused philanthropy. Marie educates and inspires with a rare mix of humor, wisdom and insight. She advises women, “Be honest with yourself about what you’re interested in. Have a personal brand.”
We’re seeing a huge uptick in interest in careers with social impact. Are you seeing the same thing on your campuses?
A recent article in the Guardian newspaper, published in London, focuses on the same questions that your students may be asking you: “Why are so many people unemployed at the same time that there are a large number of job openings?” Or perhaps, “How can economic policy affect unemployment?”
The winners of the 2010 Nobel Prize for economics have developed a theory to answer these questions, according to the Guardian. Their underlying research reveals that the “market inefficiencies or friction” can cause unemployment to remain higher than it should, take longer to turn around, and cost more to reduce. The U.S. economy currently faces two crucial markets that are deep in recession—housing and labor. Unemployment nationally remains nearly 10%, and that figure disguises a far higher rate of real-life unemployment.
With U.S. unemployment unusually high and likely to remain stubbornly so over the next few years, economic policy-makers are faced with the difficult task of figuring out the right mix of responses. Is the rate of unemployment the result of seismic shifts in the U.S. economy and caused by a mismatch of skills and job openings – or is it a function of the recent sluggish growth, weak demand and nervous employers not wanting to take a risk? The answer to those questions could dictate very different policy responses.
In Elkhart, Indiana, where President Obama talked up the economic recovery back in 2009, unemployment is 13.5%, compared with 4% before the recession hit, and job creation is being hampered by cyclical and structural forces. “A new firm making eco-friendly vans wasn’t hiring because it wasn’t selling its products. And a new electric car plant opening nearby wasn’t likely to hire many locals because they lacked the high-tech skills it needs,” reports the Guardian.
Although this information may be a bit depressing, it’s encouraging to know that the 2010 Nobel Prize winners may be able to effect policy changes that will improve the job market. If they can’t, it’s hard to imagine who can!