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July 18, 2003

Less Educated Saw Bust even in Boom

The jobless and wageless recovery started long ago for men with high school degrees. According to a new report Boom Times a Bust: Declining Employment Among Less-Educated Men, hourly wages (in constant dollars) for men in this age range dropped drastically from $ 10.47 in 1979 to $ 8.47 in 1989. Despite the economic boom of the 1990s, wages only increased marginally to $ 8.68 an hour from 1989 to 1999. Furthermore, employment rates for less-educated young men declined by 5 percentage points, from 83 percent to 78 percent, since the 1979 business cycle.

The decline in employment was most severe among African American men, with employment between 1979 and 1999 dropping 13 percentage points, from 66% to 53%.

At least part of the answer is the massive increase in imprisonment, where data indicated that African American men, particularly those with criminal records, have fewer job opportunities than other groups because of employer perceptions of criminal involvement. Not only does a criminal record reduce employment opportunities for all the ethnic groups because of discrimination, the study said, time spent in prison is time away from systems that lead to employment and career advancement, such as developing professional networks. (Some info from a BNA Daily Labor Report).

There is a large chunk of the population, white and black, being completely left behind in the economy, not in the current recession, but over the last twenty years. Forget short-term stimulus-- we need long-term job creation aimed at this population.

Posted by Nathan at July 18, 2003 10:17 AM