This is the third of my three-part series on Black unemployment. In Part I, I examined the overall Black employment picture under Obama. In Part II, I reviewed the relationship between age and Black unemployment. In this post, I look at the relationship between education and Black unemployment.
Given that the lifetime earnings difference between those who hold a bachelor’s degree and those who do not is about one million dollars, the economic costs of not getting a college degree are severe.
What the data in the figure show are that an individual’s employability as a high school dropout are terribly poor. The figure below shows unemployment rate by educational attainment. Achieving at least some college education lowers the chance of unemployment by at least 10%.
As a society, we do a poor job of explaining to high school students what a poor decision is made when one decides to drop out. I recognize that every situation is different, but given the high school dropout crisis confronting Black and Latino students, we clearly are failing in getting the right message across (and let’s not forget that Black male high school dropouts lead the nation in incarceration rates).
All data are for adults Black adults 25 and over.
Despite the solid work of the National Urban League, they fight an uphill battle trying to get high school dropouts good jobs. The jobs they can find inner-city Blacks who lack a high school education are low-skill, low-wage dead-end jobs with little room for advancement in pay or responsibility.
In Part II, I encouraged President Obama and congressional Democrats to get serious in their focus on Black employment; however, only so much help is possible for an ill-equipped workforce. The workforce of the 21st century will be one that is strong on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills and dropping out of high school makes obtaining STEM skills that much harder.
There are a lot of structural barriers to full employment for minorities and women. In fact, private sector bias in employment is at an all-time high. Nonetheless, Black workers cannot defeat discrimination and self-induced economic pain through astronomic high school dropout rates at the same time.