An Uneven Economic Recovery: Who is left behind?

June 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm 2 comments

The Urban Institute has published a report looking at trends in unemployment, changes in the labor market, and demographic analysis showing the impact of these trends on different kinds of workers. The report includes a national analysis and shorter briefs looking at 25 metropolitan areas across the country, including Raleigh.

The takeaway? While employment will overall improve over the next five years, low-skilled workers, those with lower levels of education, and workers of color will face higher rates of unemployment and barriers to finding jobs. In addition, while the unemployment rate measures those who are actively seeking jobs, there is a significant number of people who have been unemployed so long they have basically given up. These people are referred to as “marginally attached,” which means that though they aren’t actively on a job search they’d take a job if one was offered to them. If you incorporate these marginally attached workers into the unemployment figure, it would go up from 8.3 percent (in Feb. 2012) to 9.8 percent.

In Raleigh, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average both overall and when looking at gender, race and age demographics. The charts below show the differences. What is most striking, though unfortunately not surprising, are the extremely high unemployment rates for non-Hispanic Blacks and youth (age 18-25) with less than a high school diploma– 33.4 percent and 27.6 percent respectively.

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Another important finding of the report is that the jobs projected to have the highest next increases nationally over the next five years are low-wage jobs. The highest net increase is projected to be in office and administrative support, which has a median wage in 2010 of $14.77 per hour. That’s below the overall median wage of $16.27 per hour.

These findings have significant implications for economic development policy moving forward. Where the state invests in education, work supports, and training will influence whether or not the most vulnerable and marginalized in our communities will have access to economic opportunity. Unfortunately, it appears that our state legislature has elected to cut spending in these areas, continuing the trend of disinvestment in our state’s most valuable resource: it’s people.

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Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Jobs & Employment. Tags: , , .

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