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Unwaged Citizens in US

by Daniyal


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in October was projected to be 7.9 percent, up from 7.8 percent in September. It is a 0.1 percent rise, but on closer examination, it seems to be stable since August’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent. The number of unwaged citizens dropped from 88,710,000 to 88,341,000, resulting in a 410,000 rise in the number of working people to 143,384,000, and a 170,000 increase in the number of unemployed people to 12,258,000. This suggests that the economy is in a healthy state; nevertheless, a closer examination of the data will reveal differently. According to Motoko (par 3); Shah & Lee (par 10) policymakers could classify those figures as “poor and worrying” because they could claim that, considering a rise in employment prospects, the job market cannot keep up with the rising amount of people searching for work, resulting in an increase in the unemployed. Barro (par 1) describes these minor improvements as “dismal” in terms of economic growth.

Unwaged Citizens in US

The State of American Employment

Age and Student Debt

The teens in the age range of 16 to 19 years reported an unemployment rate of 23.7% which did not shift from the previous month. This was slightly better than the employment rate for adult males, which was 7.3 percent, and the employment rate for adult females, which was 7.2 percent. This obviously demonstrates that when one becomes older, career security improves. In contrast to their novice youth, adults have work experience. The unemployment rate for adolescents aged 16 to 19 years old stayed unchanged; this was compared to adult males, where the rate was 7.3 percent, while females saw a 0.2 percent rise. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States of America)

As a result of unemployment, young people are trying to make ends meet. According to Rampell (paragraph 1), the young’s outlook appears to be gloomy in this century. According to her, just one out of every six young people operates full-time. The majority of children struggle to live with their parents; three out of every five children reside with their parents. While 73% of young people think they need further schooling to pursue a decent job, just half of them say they will enroll in the immediate future.

Latest graduates are included in the unemployed youth. Recent graduates are more likely to serve as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and food service helpers than programmers, physicians, scientists, or mathematicians, according to Weisman (par 6) in his essay “53 percent of recent grads are underemployed or jobless.” Many graduates, though, would not take these jobs because a college education is costly and students incur debts through their studies. When you struggle with little pay, it’s even more difficult to repay these debts. Second, as college graduates accept a low-paying or low-skill career, they are more often replacing a worker who is less skilled. Krugman (paragraph 11) notes that the debt burden is not the major issue confronting young people; rather, a shortage of employment is stopping many graduates from starting their careers.

Gender and Employment Stability

When it comes to career security, gender analysis shows that women have a marginal advantage over men. Women aged 16 and over had an unemployment rate of 7.7%, up 0.2 percent from the previous month, whereas men in the same age range had an unemployment rate of 8.0 percent, unchanged from the previous month. When you hit the age of 20, the unemployment rate for women is 7.2 percent, up 0.2 percent from the previous month, whereas the unemployment rate for men is 7.3 percent, unchanged from the previous month. This data specifically shows that career stability for men and women is approaching parity. Young males and females also have a large incidence of unemployment, as shown by the fact that as the age is lifted from 16 to 20, female unemployment decreases by 0.5 percent and male unemployment drops by 0.7 percent (US Bureau of Central Statistics).

Education and Income Gap

Education level plays a vital role in determination of unemployment rate. Civilians with low education level have the highest rate of unemployment. Data indicates that those with less than high school diploma have the highest unemployment rate (12.2%). These are followed by those with high school diploma but have no college diploma at 8.4%, then those with college diploma or associate degree at 6.9%, while those with bachelors’ degree or higher have the lowest rate at 3.8% (US Bureau of Central Statistics).

Education is a major determinant of the income disparities in the United States.  Rampell (par 9) states that although there has been national argument about whether college is worth the debt burden it entails, most high school graduates with no college degrees believed they would be unable to get good jobs without further education. The income gap is brought about by the fact that American economy has higher demand for educated workers. As the country becomes more educated the qualifications for jobs are raised leaving more and more of those with low academic qualifications jobless. Improvement in technology can also be singled out for the rising demand of educated workers in America. Given the high debt burden that goes with college degrees, the percentage of people with degrees is lower than those without degrees and this brings about the income gap as a small percentage of the work force get high incomes while a large proportion go home with low wages. The people with degrees also enjoy more job security than those without the degrees.

The data hints that this gap is not closing soon because there was a reduction in the unemployment rate among those with bachelors’ degree or higher qualifications by 0.3% and high school graduates with no college diploma also reduced by 0.3%. On the other hand, those with college or associate degree increased by 0.4% while those with less than high school diploma qualifications had the highest increase at 0.9% (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). This indicates that attainment of high school diploma is a necessity for absorption in the job market of the United States.  More and more workers with less than high school diploma are being blocked from engaging into gainful employment while on the other hand due to globalization and advancement in technology there is an increase in absorption for those with bachelors degree or higher. The statistics also showed an increase in the unemployment rate for those with college diploma or associate degree, this can be pinned on the fact that as more and more people with bachelors’ degree or higher enter the job market they displace those with lower qualifications.

Race and Poverty

The unemployment statistics according to race indicated that the Asians have the lowest unemployment rate of 4.9% (not seasonally adjusted) followed by whites with 7.0 %, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity at 9.7% (not seasonally adjusted) while blacks have the highest rate at 14.3%. This data compared with the previous period shows that there was an increase in unemployment rate across all races except the whites. That for (African American) Black increased by 0.9%, Hispanic or Latino race recorded an increase of 0.3% (from the previous year), Asian race had an increase of 0.1% (from the previous year) and the whites recorded no increase (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).

According to Baker and Hassett (par 1) in their article “The Human Disaster of Unemployment” the American economy is going through long term crisis in terms of unemployment. Stiglitz (par 3) asserts that assuming a job creation rate of 225,000 per month, it would take 150 months for America to reach its full employment, which is around some time in 2025. This is despite the projection that it could return to full employment by 2018. Baker and Hassett (par 2) say that the long term unemployment is experienced mostly by the young, the old, the African American, and Latino workers.

The statistics show that about 46.2 million Americans live below the poverty line; the blacks experience the highest poverty rate followed by the Latino Ethnicity. This can be attributed to the fact that there is a high unemployment rate among these ethnic groups. Lack of employment means low income, which consequently reduces the purchasing power of individuals leading to poverty. Blacks could be experiencing poverty due to the vicious cycle associated with poverty. They lack the money to educate their children so that they can be engaged into better jobs hence their children land in low paying or are not employed at all. This cycle is transferred to the next generation.

Discouraged, Marginally Attached, and Part Time Workers

According to U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of part time workers for economic reasons went down by 269,000 to stand at 8.3 million in October to some extent making up for an increase of 582,000 in the previous month. This group engages in involuntary part time due to their hours being reduced at job or they are unable to get fulltime jobs. October recorded 2.4 million workers who were marginally attached to labor force, slightly different from the previous year. Marginally attached are the people who are not in the labor market but can work if an opportunity arises. They are also said to have searched for work in the past 12 months. Among the marginally attached, discouraged workers were 813,000, which was a reduction of 154,000 from the previous year. Discouraged workers are defined as people not looking for a job because they believe there are no jobs for them (Harding par 7). The decline in the number of discouraged workers means there is an increase in confidence in the government’s creation of new job opportunities.


From the BLS statistics the American economy is headed for stability after the effects of recession. However, there is need to address the issue of high unemployment rate among the youths and the race disparities in terms of unemployment. The government should also invest more money in education to enable the youths acquire the necessary skills for employment. Entrepreneurial opportunities should be increased by providing more finances and reducing formation hurdles to small businesses. This will create more employment opportunities in the private sector and reduce the government’s burden of creating more jobs in the state owned enterprises. 

Works Cited
  • Baker, Dean and Hassett, Kevin. “The Human Disaster of Unemployment.” The New York Times, 5/12/2012
  • Barro, Robert. “Why This Slow Recovery Is Like No Recovery.” The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/2012
  • Harding, Robin. “A Workforce on the Wane.Financial Times, 4/18/2012
  • Motoko, Rich. “After a winter of Strong Gains, Job Growth Ebbs.” The New York Times, 4/7/2012
  • Krugman, Paul. “Easy Useless Economics”. The New York Times, 5/11/2012
  • Rampell, Catherine. “More Young Americans out of High School Are also out of Work.” The New York Times, 6/6/2012
  • Shah, Neil and Lee, Carol. “U.S. Labor Market Slows Its Stride.” The Wall Street Journal, 4/7/2012
  • Stiglitz, Joseph. “The US Labor Market Is Still A Shambles.” Financial Times, 3/12/12
  • U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment Situation Summary.” U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11/2/2012
  • Weisman, Jordan. “53% of Recent College Grads Are Jobless or Underemployed – How?” The Atlantic, 4/25/2012

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