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3 Ways Of Looking At Unemployment

The unemployment rate is a relatively blunt measure. It tries to answer a single, sweeping question: What percentage of the American labor force is actively looking for a job but can't find one?

So with the release of the latest jobs numbers today, we decided to take a deeper look at unemployment.

No matter how you slice it, you see a similar picture: Unemployment shot up in 2008 and the first part of 2009, and has remained largely stagnant since then.

But the details change radically depending on what group you look at.

Consider unemployment by education level. For each group, the unemployment rate has roughly doubled in the past few years. But for people with college degrees that means something radically different than for people who didn't graduate from high school:

Unemployment by education
Jess Jiang/NPR

Parsing the numbers by age shows a big disparity between the young and the not-young:

Unemployment by age
Jess Jiang/NPR
Unemployment by Gender
Jess Jiang/NPR

Finally, it's worth noting that the recession has been harder on men than on women:

This is due at least in part to the fact that industries staffed largely by men (construction) have been hit particularly hard, while other industries (education, health care) have fared better.

For more: Dig into the historical data tables, which let you parse the numbers lots of different ways.