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Economy in Brief

U.S. Unemployment By Age, Race,Gender & Schooling
by Tom Moeller April 9, 2010

The U.S. unemployment rate has lingered near 10% since last summer. As if that's not bad enough news, the detail behind the total paints a picture of an even graver economic situation. The current range of the unemployment rate is 7%-to-47% in the U.S. depending on age, race and sex. But many other variables matter greatly for the level of unemployment amongst certain groups.

The unemployment rate for adults, aged 20 or over, currently is 9.1%. That is lower than the total, but it's still more than double the rate from 2005 to 2007. Here, however, is where a further breakdown of the numbers reveals even more notable divergences in unemployment. Let's begin by looking further at age. For teenagers, the unemployment rate is a relatively high 26.1% and that's up from roughly 15% in 2006. But the adult female unemployment rate is a lower at 8.0%, though that is double the 2007 low. The adult male unemployment rate is 10.0%, roughly equal to the total.

The figures by race versus age & gender diverge greatly. At the low end of the unemployment scale are white individuals with an 8.8% rate, though that is more than double the average from 2005 to 2007. Again, the rate for adult females is lower at 7.3%, compared to 8.9% for adult white men. For blacks, the numbers rise significantly. The unemployment rate amongst blacks and African Americans is up to 16.5% from the 8.3% low in 2007. Again, female black unemployment is lower than that of males at 13.2%, compared to 20.2% for men. But the grown-ups, as usual, are better off. Unemployment amongst adult blacks amounted to 15.5%. Though that was double the 2007 low, the rate for black teenagers was an eye-popping 41.1%. If you're male and a teen the rate jumps higher to 47.4% from 32.5% in 2006.

As might be expected, the level of educational attainment matters when it some to employment. The unemployment rate for individuals who either took some college courses (8.2%) or received a BA or higher (4.9%) suggest that preparation for a professional career pays off. These numbers ignore, of course, the payoff to folks who seriously prepare for a skilled-labor position. For adults with less than a high school diploma, the relatively high unemployment rate of 14.5% is up from the 7.0% low in 2006-07.

Unemployment data are available in Haver's USECON & EMPL databases.

The Labor Market in the Great Recession from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here here.

The Economic Outlook is the title of yesterday's speech by Fed Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn and it can be found here here.

Unemployment Rate (%) March February January March '09 2009 2008 2007
Total 9.7 9.7 9.7 8.6 9.3 5.8 4.6
  16-19 Years 26.1 25.0 26.4 22.0 24.3 18.7 15.7
    White 23.7 22.5 23.5 20.3 21.9 16.7 13.9
    Black or African American 41.1 42.0 43.8 33.1 39.6 31.2 29.4
  20 Years & Over 9.1 9.1 9.0 8.0 8.7 5.2 4.1
    White 8.1 8.2 8.1 7.4 7.9 4.7 3.6
    Black or African American 15.5 14.8 15.3 12.7 13.7 9.1 7.2
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