Bad Job Scene for Less-Educated in America

Less-educated, younger, and minority American workers face the worst job market in decades, far worse than their more educated counterparts. However, the situation for these workers was very difficult even before the current recession.

A report from the Center for Immigration Studies examines their employment situation in the second quarters of both 2007 (before the recession) and 2010.

Younger and less-educated workers are the most likely to be in competition with immigrants – legal and illegal.

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Here are the findings from the report: “From Bad to Worse: Unemployment and Underemployment Among Less-Educated U.S.-Born Workers, 2007 to 2010” –

  • Younger and less-educated natives often do the same jobs as immigrants. During the second quarter of 2010, in the occupations employing the most young and less-educated U.S.-born adults, one in five workers was an immigrant.
  • In the second quarter of 2010, the unemployment rate for U.S.-born adults who have not completed high school was 20.8 percent. But even in the second quarter of 2007, before the recession, it was 11.1 percent.
  • Using the broader measure of unemployment that includes those who want to work but have not looked recently, and those forced to work part-time (the U-6 unemployment rate), the rate for those who haven’t completed high school was 29.3 percent in the second quarter of 2010 and 18.7 percent in the same quarter of 2007.
  • The unemployment rate for U.S.-born workers who have only a high school education and are 18 to 29 was 20 percent in the second quarter of 2010. But even before the recession in 2007 it was 9.6 percent in 2007.
  • The broader measure of unemployment for 18- to 29-year-old U.S.-born workers with only a high school education was 29.2 percent in the second quarter of 2010. It was still 16.6 percent in 2007.
  • The unemployment rate for U.S.-born black workers without a high education is currently 29 percent. Using the broader measure of unemployment it is an astonishing 39.8 percent.
  • The unemployment rate for U.S.-born black workers with only a high school education who are 18 to 29 is currently 22.9 percent. It is 32.4 percent using the boarder measure of unemployment.
  • The unemployment rate for U.S.-born Hispanic workers without a high education is currently 22.9 percent. It is 32.4 percent using the boarder measure of unemployment.
  • The unemployment rate for U.S.-born Hispanic workers with only a high education who are 18 to 29 is currently 23.3 percent. It is 33 percent using the boarder measure of unemployment.
  • In the second quarter of 2010 the unemployment rate of U.S.-born teens (16 and 17) was 31 percent. It was 38 percent using the boarder measure.
  • The total number of young and less-educated U.S.-born workers unemployed is enormous. If we look at the broad measure of unemployment for all workers who lack a high school education or have only a high school education and are young (18 to 29) or are teenagers (16-17), 6.3 million were unemployed in the second quarter of 2010.
  • In addition to the 6.3 million unemployed or underemployed, there were another 16 million of these younger and less-educated individuals who were entirely out of the labor market. That is, they were not working, nor were they looking for work, even using the broadest measure of unemployment.
  • To place these numbers in the perspective, there are an estimated seven to eight million illegal immigrants holding jobs.

One argument for amnesty and increased future immigration is that there are not enough Americans workers to do jobs that require relatively little education, such as construction labor, cleaning and maintenance, food service and preparation, delivery, and light manufacturing.

However, the employment data analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies does not support these assertions. Unemployment is extremely high among the least-educated Americans who often do these kinds of jobs.

In fact, the employment situation for such workers was very high even before the current recession began. Thus it is very difficult to find any evidence to support the contention that the country needs large-scale unskilled immigration.

Since there is an abundance of such workers already in the country, employers who have difficulty finding workers may need to offer better pay and working conditions in order to attract Americans, the report argues.

All figures in this report are calculated from the public use files of the Current Population Survey, collected by the Census Bureau, for second quarters of 2007 and 2010.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan research institution that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.

The report was released Friday, August 27.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman