U.S. Employment Looks Great for Everyone Except the Less Educated

October 13, 2016

10:30 am

Yesterday we brought you the news on U.S. freelancers, who have hit 55 million and raised $1 trillion in 2016. Now we’ve got the stats exploring last month’s employment, freelance and non-freelance. Sure, it’s just a month, but it points to a trend that’s good overall but a little troubling when broken down.

The good news: Employment is up overall. The bad: Unemployment ticked up a notch in an important area, those with less education than most. Here’s the info.

The Good News

Job growth looks good, particularly for middle-wage earners. Job search site Indeed.com, drawing on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, came up with the numbers:

“The September jobs report was solid, with employment growth of 156,000 just shy of expectations, and unemployment was nearly steady. Even better, the employment-population ratio for adults 25-54 jumped back up in September to 78.0%, tied for a post-recession high and up from 77.3% a year ago. […]

The national increase in payroll employment for September was 156,000, an 1.3% (annualized) month-over-month increase from August and a 1.7% year-over-year increase from September 2015. However, job growth was weaker in higher-wage industries, at just 1.1% (annualized) month-over-month in September.”

The Bad News

Less educated workers lost out:

“Unemployment among adults age 25+ with only a high school degree or less jumped by half a percentage point, from 5.5% in August to 6.0% in September. And it’s not because they returned to the labor force: the employment/population ratio for adults 25+ with only a high school degree or less fell by three-tenths of a percentage point. These challenges were concentrated among adults with less than a high school degree, not those with a high school degree.

For adults with some college, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree, unemployment fell and the employment/population rose in September, despite the slow job growth in higher-wage industries.”

Why should you care that unemployment for the lesser educated jumped a half percentage point since last month’s data?

Because these lesser educated earners are an important backbone to the economy. And given the rise of the self-driving car, traditional job opportunities like the ever-popular truck driver option will soon evaporate. That’s bad news for the entire economy.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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