Jobless Rate Less Scary For College Grads

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The Labor Department reported Wednesday that 470,000 Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits last week. That's a sharp decline, and the lowest in more than two years. But whether it seems like the economy is rebounding may depend on how much education you have.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Im Melissa Block


And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

Last week, 470,000 people filed claims for unemployment benefits. Thats the lowest number nationwide in more than two years, and NPR's Adam Davidson says a simple message emerges from those weekly numbers.

ADAM DAVIDSON: Whenever you hear news about jobless claims or the unemployment rate, you should translate that in your mind to one simple phrase: Stay in school.

Consider some numbers. The overall unemployment rate, right now, is 9.6 percent. That's really high. But for people who finished college, the unemployment rate is a much less terrifying 4.7 percent. Thats hardly an economic slowdown at all. Those with advanced degrees are practically in a boom, with unemployment below three percent.

But for high school dropouts, the unemployment rate is more than 15 percent. I mean, thats nearing Depression-era levels, just horrible.

Unemployment has, roughly, doubled for every one of these groups in the past couple years. So everyone is certainly affected by the slowdown, and for sure, there are plenty of college grads who are out of work, living in a home they cant afford. But life is, clearly, far worse on average for people without a BA.

Its always been true: The more school, the better off you are. But it is so especially true right now. Finishing high school shifts you, you could say, from a depression to a nasty slowdown. Going to college takes you from a nasty slowdown to just a lousy economy.

Adam Davidson, NPR News.

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