Unemployment Breakdown

by on November 9, 2009 at 10:25 am in Data Source | Permalink

The NYTimes has a nice interactive graphic on unemployment rates and changes over time by demographic characteristic.  I am in the category–white men ages 25-44 with a college degree– with almost the very lowest unemployment rate (3.9%).  Just to compare, as pointed out in the comments, black males 15-24 without a high school degree have an unemployment rate of 48.5%.  Check it out.

Hat tip to FlowingData.

1 Thorfinn November 9, 2009 at 10:38 am

No you’re not–white women ages 25-44 with a college degree have a rate of 3.6%.

2 Thorfinn November 9, 2009 at 10:49 am

Whoops, didn’t see the “almost”.

3 Andrew November 9, 2009 at 11:29 am

I bet that graduate degrees become a relative liability in a downturn. During a recession, you probably want a generalist degree to show you are better than your competitors, but over-specialization may be a lead anchor unless you luck into the recalculation industry winners which are, to Paul Krugman’s chagrin, smaller than the previous and future bubble industries. That sounds like a dissertation topic to me.

4 Ironman November 9, 2009 at 11:46 am

Here’s a more detailed look at the job scene for those Age 16-19.

5 Greg Ransom November 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm

How is the minimum wage labor cohort doing with gov. minimum wage price controls going up stiffly in the teeth of a depression?

6 Mr. Econotarian November 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Black males age 15-24 without a high school degree: 48.5%.

Scary. I’m surprised we don’t see riots like in France. Or maybe we do, just spread out over every day, so we don’t notice the despair and violence.

7 josh November 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Still, you have to take into account all of the progress we’ve made and how far we’ve come as a nation.

8 Neil S November 9, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I was rather struck by the decision to meld Asian, American Indian, and mixed race together in the ‘Other’ category. Somehow, I do not expect the statistics for those three groups to be at all similar.

9 Josh November 9, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Anyone else notice the decent-size uptick in unemployment among Black males age 15-24 without a high school degree after the newest minimum wage hike went into effect in July?


(What would Walter Williams say?)

10 Jm November 9, 2009 at 4:48 pm

“What I don’t understand is the disparity between 25-44 year old, college educated, white(3.9), black(8.3) and hispanic(4.3) men. Do black men choose careers so different than white and hispanic men that they experience an unemployment rate that is approximately double?”

The Class Rank by Race and Economic Class chart here might help explain this:


50.5% of blanks rank in the fifth quintile, compared to 32.8% of Hispanics, 16.9% of Asians, and 15.8% of whites. Only 4.8% of blacks are in the top quintile.

11 John Dewey November 9, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Employers are more likely to run criminal background and credit checks on applicants than they were 10 or 20 years ago. The industry has evolved and competition has led to reduced screening costs. The impact on African-Americans must be significant.

Young black men are overrepresented among the criminal population. As Devah Pager explained in Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration:

“Over the course of a lifetime, nearly one in three young black men–and well over half of young black high school dropouts–will spend some time in prison.”

African-Americans have more credit problems. A 2007 study by the Department of Education revealed that over the first decade after leaving college, African Americans had an:

“overall default rate that was over five times higher than white students and over nine times higher than Asian students.”

Data on subprime mortgage defaults from the Boston Federal Reserve showed that African Americans experienced default rates more than twice as high as whites. In addition, the African American population was proportionately more likely to be given subprime loans.

Given the criminal and credit history of African-American males, it’s not surprising that young black men, as a group, experience a sharply higher unemployment rate.

12 Bill November 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm

What this tells you is that we need to get going on job training or high school completion programs for certain parts of the labor force. Lest you only look at educational attainment, job acquisition is also part of a social process. If someone you know is employed, they may give you information on an employment opportunity; if all the persons you know are unempoloyed or underemployed, your network, so to speak, has less value. And, lest you think such a network is not valuable for the less than high school crowd, or the low skills crowd, you just have to look at your own experience: do you know persons who work in state or local government, or in your school, who are related to each other, and probably got the job because they were tipped off about it? If you do a social network analysis of public sector jobs, you would probably find firemen related to firemen, policemen related to other policement, etc. The same also goes for manufacturing jobs as well.
So, now imagine a teenager without a dad, high school drop out. What is his social network for finding employment? Now, if you are in academia, what is the social network you rely on from your advisor?
Social network and employment network analyses for the poor are worthy of study and repair.

13 Josh November 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm

@libert: My guess is that a lot of it has to do with the criminal background problems mentioned above. Bruce Western has a new paper in the AJS that shows black men without records are less likely to get hired than a similar white man with a criminal record in low-wage urban labor markets. Western doesn’t mention it, but I think a lot of it has to do with the minimum wage allowing employers to indulge in their “taste for discrimination.”

I don’t forgot that most of the stereotypes of have of blacks refer only to black MEN. Black women have their own stereotypes, but I think they have less to do with work or violence issues.

14 Justin Travis November 9, 2009 at 9:23 pm

I don’t believe that race has any factor when determining unemployment rates. We have been told since we were little that if we wanted a good job then we needed to graduate high school and get a college degree. These unemployment rates prove that high school and college degrees are an important part in our lives especially when trying to find a job. With high school and college degrees we have a better chance to get jobs because we are qualified in many areas which gives us a wider range of jobs we can apply for. Lots of people like to link race to many economic problems including unemployment, but the truth is that education is the main factor. With a higher education we are more likely to get jobs and more likely to be more successful in every aspect of life.

15 Bill November 9, 2009 at 10:30 pm

What I meant was that it would be a worthy pursuit to look at the social networks and the employment networks of poor persons and see how they differ from the social networks (which serve to support searching for employment) of persons who typically have jobs. Social network analysis is used in marketing, but really it could be studied as a search cost impediment for poor people finding jobs. Now, if a poor person’s social network has a lower probability of finding a job, then perhaps we have to find ways to place resources with job knowledge and links within that network. Here’s an example where you find a node in a network being used to improve job search. My wife is a reference librarian; libraries have become much bigger nodes for job search because there is free internet access which poor people are accustomed to using–now, next to the internet desks, the state unemployment agency places job information. Similarly, churches could be places that job information is avalailable.
What strikes me is that it is not just educational attainment that predicts job finding success. Its networks.

And, this can work in reverse to hurt poor people. I am absolutely appalled at the frequency of city and state employees who have related family members interspersed throughout a city or state government. Its just amazing, and the frequency can’t be based on random chance. So, if you are not in that network, it is less likely you will find out about a job, know how to interview for it, etc.

I am not for affirmative action. I am for meritocracy. I want everyone to have a chance, and when I see social networks of the employed becoming a barrier to Hmong, African American, and other minority employment–and this is not intentional on anyone’s part–I am saddened. the unemployed and chronically unemployed have poor networks. We need to find a way to incorporate better poor people into social networks that lead to job finding and placement, and we need to be aware of how social networks can also be an impediment to meritocracy.

16 Andrew November 10, 2009 at 1:21 am

My previous post probably sounds a little callous to the untrained eye. Besides, it’s 1 am and I have nothing better to do. It’s not that I don’t worry about this stuff, I probably think about it and the real solutions more than the average bleeding heart.

What the bleeding hearts that care deeply about group identity economics need to do is figure out the lowest cost actions that cannot be gamed by the already “advantaged.” Public schools are not low cost. Print more books and build more libraries and they will probably be used by the white people. Throw money into bad neighborhoods and it is probably wasted. Improve the knowledge about social networks, and just like Cialdini’s book on influence was used by the salesmen to hone their manipulations, it will be hard to direct the outcome. What’s the answer? I don’t know, but it’s not to just talk about how important the problem is and throw money at it to signal you really care.

‘Round here, I’m constantly amazed that all the basketball courts (if they exist) have the rims taken down or covers locked on. People actually put forth effort to keep kids from entertaining themselves. They probably think things like “if we have a basketball court, then all the hoodlums are there!” and I think “well, yeah.”

17 Bill November 10, 2009 at 12:16 pm

We evidently live in different neighborhoods and have different experiences. Mine is as described. And, your obsvervations support the same point: that when groups get in power, the network is self-reinforcing. A poor and equally qualified white, asian or hispanic person is injured by the same things you described. That’s why we should recognize that networks play a big role in job search and acquisition. I don’t think we really disagree and your point is supportive.

18 John Dewey November 10, 2009 at 4:34 pm

bill: “I don’t think we really disagree and your point is supportive.”

Oh, I think we do disagree when you single out minorities as lacking networks:

bill: “I see social networks of the employed becoming a barrier to Hmong, African American, and other minority employment”

I’ve just provided evidence that minority leaders are skillfully exploiting such networks.

I think we disagree when you propose a “we” solution to the problem you believe you have uncovered:

bill: “We need to find a way to incorporate better poor people into social networks that lead to job finding and placement”

What minority workers desperately need is for their leaders – and for bleeding hearts – to stop helping them to believe they cannot succeed on their own. Unlike you, bill, I have great confidence in the ability of humans of all colors to achieve economic success.

19 Terry November 11, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Check out the following from the US Labor Dept.. statistics show the true impact of what’s happening with black males and the labor force.. as far as I can tell over the past ten years only one racial group has “lost” jobs over the past ten years, black males. Check the box “employed” and review the data. There’s also a lot of other good information available at on this site.


Economic self sufficiency is the only answer for black males in America.

20 Aaron Luchko November 15, 2009 at 1:13 am

In every race group there seems to be a bigger correlation between education and unemployment for men than women.

Every group except Hispanics, when education has a bigger correlation for women.

I don’t know if there’s causation, I could see this instead being due to men being more likely to have legal troubles and that being correlated with education.

However I’m really curious why Hispanics seem immune from the trend (if the trend really exists, it’s hard to tell without the raw numbers).

21 Terry November 16, 2009 at 12:14 pm

onetimeposter, do you have any verifiable pertinent data to support your statement or are you just using the anonymity of the internet to expouse your own racist beliefs? I’ve worked with people who’ve graduated from West Point and they were not the brightest people I’ve ever met. However, I would never conclude that all of the military acadamies were substandard and provided their students with “an abysmal education”. There’s more to your beliefs than what you’re sharing with us. Is it some deep rooted hatred for the institutions you’ve mentioned as being inferior or do you just consider the people attending those institutions as being inferior?

22 Terry November 16, 2009 at 12:20 pm

oops.. sorry about the double posting.. my apologies to everyone.

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