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Unemployment Rate by Education

-Jack Ware

Posted above is a FRED graph of unemployment in the past 10 years. All lines are based of variable aspects within the U.S (Green-high school degree, Red-college degree, Purple-doctoral degree, Dark blue-entire U.S) except for the light blue, which represents general unemployment in Canada. When observing the time period around 2009, we can observe the effects of the Great Recession where we see spikes in the unemployment rates. Those without a college degree in the U.S suffer the steepest increase as seen by the green line where unemployment rises from 4.7  percent in 2008 to 11 percent in October 2019. The effects can also be seen by those with a college degree where unemployment rises from 2 percent in 2008 to 5.3 percent in July 2009. The global effect can also be scene as unemployment in Canada rises in general sync with the U.S around the 2008-2010 time period.

An interesting element to note is the purple line which represents the unemployment rate for those with a doctoral degree. We can see that they suffer a minor increase around 2009, changing from 1.6 percent in March to 3.8 percent in June. However, this change quickly rebounds. This quick rebound makes sense given that there are few doctors when compared to the general population and a general demand for doctors. This raises questions as to whether certain jobs are above the scope of drastic unemployment changes. We can see from August 2011 to December 2011 doctoral degree unemployment rises from 1.6 percent to 3.8 percent. However unemployment rates for those with a college degree (red) or only a high school degree (green) decrease over the same time period.

From the graph, the correlation of education to unemployment rate stands out. Those with lesser education feel the effects of recessions to a much steeper rise in unemployment as seen when comparing the green line to the red line. Globally we can see that recessions appear to have some universal effect as both U.S and Canadian unemployment rates rose around the period 2008-2009. When looking at the graph we also observe that the unemployment rate for those with doctoral degrees appears to function much more independently than those with college degrees or high school degrees.  The relative horizontal purple graph provides evidence that more advanced job positions are more stable in the U.S economy.

14 thoughts on “Unemployment Rate by Education

  1. Chris Surran

    Jack, this is a very interesting post. I also think that it would be interesting if there was a way to track the quality of certain levels of education. For example, it would be interesting to compare the unemployment levels of people with an ivy league education vs those with a community college education.

  2. radcliffec20

    Jack, two things you highlighted at the end of your post really caught my eye: those with lesser education experience increasing unemployment during recessions and, a follow-up, more advanced job positions are more stable in the U.S economy. I think this is an incredibly important insight into explaining the cyclical nature of poverty.

  3. moraifa19

    Jack, thanks for this interesting post. Universally, everyone felt the recession but the level of education does make a difference in the rebound from this fall. I wonder how much this has to do with our society's meritocracy being based on level of education. As higher education levels, like a doctoral degree, are exclusive to the wealthy, this meritocracy must be rigged in favor of the rich.

  4. myerse20

    Jack, this has definitely made me consider going to grad school much more strongly! You explained the fluctuations in the graph very well, as well as the overall trend that the more advanced the degree, the better your job certainty is. Great job!

  5. Cade Hornak

    Jack, the example of how those with doctorates rebounded so quickly does make it seem possible that some jobs are almost "immune" to recession. Did you find any other graphs or statistics that compare unemployment rate by job or a very specific education? Thanks!

  6. Lauren Fredericks

    Jack, this data seems to make a lot of logical sense. Another reason for stable doctoral jobs is likely the fact that medical care is usually the thing people cannot go without, regardless of economic twists and turns. Even if you lose your job, if you have a heart attack, you have essentially no choice but to go to the hospital. This makes doctoral jobs very stable.

  7. Jimmie Johnson III

    This is a very interesting post as it gives empirical data to illustrate the benefits of having a higher level of education. Another thing to think about is how technology will incorporate into the future of business. Companies are working hard everyday to cut labor costs. Amazon just opened a prototype store that allows people to check out without using a cashier. For many people who do not have an advanced level of education they could soon see their jobs taken by technology. While doctors could find their jobs taken in the future too believe that will be a lonnggg time coming because people will have a difficult time adapting from a real doctor to trusting technology with their lives.

  8. Katie Paton

    I found this graph rather surprising. I would have expected the great recession to have a larger effect on unemployment for both people with college degrees and doctoral degrees. I would have expected more people with higher level degrees to lose their jobs as their are less high level jobs than minimum wage level jobs. This graph shows the importance of an education, especially in times of a recession.

  9. bearupk20

    When looking at it visually, it makes sense that those with a higher education have more stable jobs, because most of the positions individuals with higher degrees have, require a certain skillset, and this is often fitted to those with higher educations, rather than individuals with high school degrees. So even when the economy as a whole suffers, those in these specific roles do not suffer as much because they cannot be replaced in their position. This graph definitely verifies the importance of education in the labor force and should be made more public to encourage other individuals to pursue some kind of education past high school.

  10. spencerc20

    The data in this graph seems pretty logical because since the job market for people with doctoral degrees is much more limited than the job market for people who only have high school degrees. Despite an economic downturn, these people can retain their jobs because they have the advanced skills needed for it instead of some jobs that require less skills and could possibly be replaced with automated systems.

  11. clintong20

    These graphs make complete logical sense. It is easy to determine that higher education leads to higher paying, consistent work. It seems as if recessions had little impact on people with graduate degrees, but an effect was still made. Altogether, a very interesting subject to note.

  12. hallk20

    Looking at the data, it follows the logic that those with more education do have more job security, however it is really interesting to see how even those with doctoral degrees faced a very steep increase in unemployment towards the end of the recession. However, those with doctoral degrees found jobs at a much quicker rate, while those with less education has a gradual re-entrance to employment following the recession. It is also really interesting to see the steep shift in how the recession affected those with college degrees and those with high school degrees. The recession affected those who have college degrees at a much lower rate. As more and more people have the chance to get a college education, it will be interesting to see how this changes the unemployment rates of collegiate graduates in the next recession.

  13. Evans Alison

    The trends shown above are not surprising to me. It shows that the more human capital a person has, the more valued he or she is when there is high competition between workers. People with a doctorate degree have more human capital and their skills are valued over a person who only has a high school degree. That being said, in a recession everyone is at risk of losing their jobs because companies have less money to pay their employees. Nonetheless, this data further proves the notion that all companies aim to increase their productivity and would rather fire employees with less human capital than those with more human capital.

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