April 06, 2014
Tyler Cowen warns us that technology may be making it much harder for less educated workers to get jobs. He highlights a series of changes in the economy then tells readers:
“All of these developments mean a disadvantage for people who don’t like formal education, even if they are otherwise very talented. It’s no surprise that current unemployment has been concentrated among those with lower education levels.”
Actually, the data show unemployment has been less concentrated among the less educated in this recovery than was the case twenty years ago. Over the first three months of 2014 the unemployment rate for people over age 25 with at least a college degree averaged 3.3 percent. This is slightly higher than the 3.1 percent average in the first quarter of 1992.
While the unemployment rate for college grads was higher in the most recent period than in 1992, it was lower for both people with just high school degrees and for people who did not graduate high school. For high school grads the unemployment rate averaged 6.4 percent in the most recent quarter, half a percentage point below the 6.9 percent average in the first quarter of 1992. For those without high school degrees the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in the first quarter of 2014 more than a percentage point lower than the 11.0 percent average in the first quarter of 1992.
There are other measures that may support Cowen’s case, but a simple comparison of unemployment rates by education levels shows the opposite.
Note: Typos corrected.