Reports from the Economic Front

a blog by Marty Hart-Landsberg

Education And The Labor Market

Experts often claim that education is the key to our unemployment problems.  The more education the better.  The following two charts, taken from the New York Times Economix blog, shed some light on this claim.  The first shows that unemployment rates are indeed responsive to education; the more years of education, the lower the unemployment rate.   As this chart also makes clear, workers at all educational levels are currently suffering extremely high rates of unemployment compared with past years. 


However, the second chart (below) suggests that once someone does lose a job, more years of education is no help in finding a new job. This chart also makes clear that those who are unemployed are staying unemployed far longer than before.   The average duration of unemployment reached a record 37.1 weeks in February 2011.  That is a long time to be without a job, and as discussed previously, even before the recent economic collapse there was very little net private sector job creation.   As BusinessWeek pointed out: “Between May 1999 and May 2009, employment in the private sector only rose by 1.1%, by far the lowest 10-year increase in the post-depression period. It’s impossible to overstate how bad this is. Basically speaking, the private sector job machine has almost completely stalled over the past ten years.”


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