Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Apr 3rd 2009 at 1:32pm UTC

Class and Unemployment

Unemployment continued to rise in March. The unemployment rate increased from 8.1 percent to 8.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some 663,000 Americans lost their jobs in March, and overall 5.1 million Americans have been put out of work since the onset of the recession in December 2007.

But the real unemployment rate is as high 15.6 percent according to the BLS U6 measure which includes marginally attached and discouraged workers.

The impact of the recession continues to be extremely uneven by gender, race, class, and occupation.

  • Men continue to experience higher rates of unemployment than women – 8.8 percent vs. 7.0 percent – due to the concentration of men in manufacturing jobs.
  • The unemployment rate for whites was was 7.9 percent compared to 11.4 percent for Hispanics and 13.4 percent for blacks, and 6.4 percent for Asians.

Unemployment is even more uneven by education or human capital level.

  • The unemployment rate for college graduates is 4.3 percent, half that for high school (only) graduates (9 percent) and one third of the 13.3 percent rate facing those without a high school degree.

And there remain huge differences in unemployment by class and occupation.

  • The highest rates of unemployment remain concentrated in working class occupations – production workers (14.9 percent), and transportation (12.7 percent) as well as construction and extraction jobs (22.7 percent) and farming, fishing and forestry (21.7 percent).
  • For service class workers the unmeployment rate is 9.4 percent.
  • Unemployment is significantly lower for the creative class. For management and business occupations – including hard fit financial jobs – the unemployment rate is 4.5 percent. For professional and scientific occupations, it remains less than 4 percent (3.9 percent).

UPDATE: This chart, from Ryan Avent, shows occupation by class/ major occupational grouping for the past three months.

Avent writes:

As the economy begins to recover, the lines for these categories are going to shrink, but they’re not going to shrink at the same rate. In particular, production occupations may see very little movement in their line at all — many of the manufaturing jobs lost during this recession (in the auto industry say) won’t be coming back. Even if construction employment improves, it will be a long time before the construction labor market is anything resembling tight … Recovery from this recession, in other words, is intimately connected to facilitation of long-term sectoral shifts in the economy. The hard part is how to facilitate those shifts.

One Response to “Class and Unemployment”

  1. Mike L. Says:

    Would not “demographics” be a better term than “class”? Ethnic and occupational categories seems to have little connection with a “class” system.
    Or let’s define a modern class system. Here’s my suggestion:
    1. Government workers of all types
    2. Management
    3. Retired with private pension
    4. Full time
    5. Part time, on-commission, self-employed
    6. Housewives, laid-off
    7. Retired on social security
    8. Day laborers
    9. Chronic unemployed, welfare cases
    What’s your suggestion?