Unemployment and Education Level

I was having a conversation sometime ago about the merits of implementing an old-school, WPA-style jobs program for the current recession. There was some concern that such a program might not work in 2009 because, unlike 1933, the population is much more educated and can’t be put to as productive use doing manual-labor-type work.

Matt Yglesias crunches the August 2009 BLS jobs numbers and produces this graph:


The brunt of the recession is falling on the least-educated segment of the workforce. This, coupled with current thinking that the recession will end in a “jobless recovery” for the next few years, indicates that a WPA-style program just might be necessary.


One thought on “Unemployment and Education Level”

  1. This graph is meaningless without history. Let’s see what this chart looked like 5 years ago, 10 years ago, etc. The anecdotal evidence suggests that this recession was a lot tougher on white collar college-educated workers. Considering the current unemployment rate is hovering around 9.5%, it would imply most workers have education anyway.

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