Unemployment vs Education Level….


Unemployment Rate by Education Level

In 1992, the BLS began tracking unemployment rates by education level. Highlighted below are the unemployment rates for the following four groups…. All groups consist of individuals 25 years old or higher.

Education Level Achieved September 2012 Month/Month




Less than

High School

11.3% -0.7 -2.6
High School Grad

No College

8.7% -0.1 -0.9
Some College

or Associate Degree

6.5% -0.1 -1.9
Bachelor’s Degree

or Higher

4.1% 0.0 -0.1

It is no secret that the lower the education level the higher the unemployment rate. We are told that employers are out looking for people to fill their jobs and there are just not enough qualified applicants. When I grew up in the 1950s and 60s a young man could graduate from high school and if he had the connections could get a job in one of the auto factories in the area. It was a good paying middle class job. But then came robotics and foreign competition.

I’m not saying that robotic or competition are a bad thing. In fact I think it is just a normal progression through the industrial age.  A hundred and fifty years ago a young boy with no education could plan on making some pretty good money by signing on to a moving cattle from Texas to Kansas City.  Those jobs like the factory jobs of my generation naturally disappeared with the advent of the railroad.  It is just a matter of progress that the good paying jobs of one generation are not the good paying ones of the next.

The fact that to get a good middle class job in today’s world takes something beyond a high school education is just to be expected. But, a basic problem is that our education system just hasn’t kept up with the demand for more intelligent workers as evidenced by the above numbers.  This fact really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Our kids generally are just not getting the education needed for today’s jobs.

So, how do we as a country change the culture of our education system to meet the demands of the 21st century? I have never been involved in this field other than as a student but I have been exposed to some of its participants.  From the teachers I have met personally it seems that the majority of them are pretty naive in the ways of today’s businesses. For the most part they are arts majors fresh out of college. Most spend their entire careers inside the educational system. If we hope to continue to compete for the middle class jobs of the world we will need to entice those who have a working knowledge of the jobs available today and a big part of that is math, science and especially computer savvy teachers.  We need teacher at the high school level who have experiences outside the educational system. I don’t think that is happening to any degree right now. At least not in my local school district.

I know many teachers read this blog and I am not trying to put you down in any way. From your comments I know how difficult a job it is to be a teacher in today’s world.  I know that a big part of the problem is in the home of the students. But we must face facts that our kids are generally not equipped for the middle class jobs of today.

4 thoughts on “Unemployment vs Education Level….

  1. You are describing a real problem for educators. How can teachers be “teachers” and manage all that goes along with that job AND be up to date and savvy about current business and technology. They do as much as they can, with ongoing education and inservices, but that’s asking a great deal of the school system and the teachers. I don’t know the full answer. I do know that in Minnesota we passed into law (2011) something called the “alternative teacher certification program” with the idea of invigorating the classrooms with some fresh blood. In the program anyone with a bachelors degree could take a fast track 200 hr training and be qualified to teach, preferably in their area of expertise. The hope was this would bring in people from business who want to change careers and and share their knowledge. As you might guess, career teachers opposed this strongly. But, as it happens, last I heard no one…I repeat …no one…has applied. No interest from the public whatsoever. Interesting isn’t it? I know other states have similar programs…I wonder how they faired?


  2. My husband, HR and math wizard, went back and certified. He lasted a year. Students and parents were so disrespectful he left teaching.
    Have you thought of going into the classroom? I don’t know an engineer interested.
    My son is a physicist who plans to teach high achool- after he retires and has enough money to raise his family on.

    To learn you need a desire. Show me a kid with desire and they usually get a good education.
    Why not solve the problem of fatherless families first?


  3. Janette is right, students have to want to learn and parents and families have a big role in developing their children. Schools cannot do everything. Every time their is a social problem people point fingers at the schools rather than at themselves. School is where we should learn the fundamentals and foster a desire for more learning…it’s not job training for specialized jobs. That has to be done outside of school in the business setting itself or at a college. If our kids are falling short it’s because we have all allowed it to happen…as they say “it takes a village”.


  4. Thank you Jane and Janette for the spirited and insightful discussion here. I remember some time ago (meaning at least 5 years) reading a report written in the early 1900s from the Indiana Historical Society and much of what is being said now was in that report. Low funding, uninvolved parents, discipline, teachers. So, this is not a new problem.

    I’m sure you both agree that the problems with our educational system today is not a single issue thing. I know so many want to find “the” solution on every problem as if a silver bullet will solve everything. But, like most things in life educational matters will take a multi-faceted approach to begin to tackle all the issues.

    Let me put a few things out there in response to your comments. Maybe being a teacher is like the original intent for politicians. That is many in business sector should be called to serve their stent in educating our kids and then move and then move back into business. I like the idea of fast tracking those who will teach.

    I don’t think there is one place where we can place the blame for undisciplined classrooms. Part of it must be the teacher, the parents, school administrators and of course the students themselves. Trying to fit all students in one box is just too difficult. I’m sure there are those who are very anxious to learn and then there are others who are just occupying space. In some ways that seems to show that we need different schools for different students. Why should the student who really wants to learn be stuck in a classroom with those who don’t? I can remember those types of frustrations myself.

    I think part of the problem with the parents is that things have just changed so much in the last fifty years relating to families. The typical family of years ago was the dad who had a job earning a living wage and the mom who stayed at home to nurture the kids. Zoom forward to today and most families, even if they are two parent households, are often holding down three or more low wage jobs between them just to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. When you work 12 – 15 hours a day there is just not much time to be involved with your kids. But being a survivor of a single parent household myself my father never got involved in what I was doing at school. He just too worn out didn’t have the time. The kids today see their parents struggling so much many just don’t have much enthusiasm for life or learning. If there is a silver bullet I think it will come form finding a way to motivating unmotivated kids… How that happens I have no idea..

    Thanks for all your insight….


Share Your Thoughts..

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s