Unemployment Then& Now

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Rugaber Associated Press

WASHINGTON u The last time unemployment climbed past 10 percent, "The A-Team" was one of the top 10 TV shows and Michael Jackson was about to release "Thriller."

Much has changed since the jobless rate hit 10.1 percent in September 1982, including the composition of the nationAEs labor force. American workers are now older, more educated and more Latino. The elderly are more likely to be working. Fewer teenagers are in the work force.

By the time the unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent last month, the proportion of workers employed in health care and education had nearly doubled since 1982, and manufacturing employment had shrunk by more than half.

Lawyers make up a bigger slice of the work force now. So do people who work in restaurants, hotels and other parts of the hospitality industry. Here, by the numbers, are some other ways the work force has changed since September 1982.

More people

110.7 million: Size of the work force in September 1982

154 million: Size of the work force in October 2009


10.7 percent: Adult male unemployment rate in October 2009

8.1 percent: Adult female unemployment rate in October 2009

9.5 percent: Adult male unemployment rate in September 1982

8.4 percent: Female unemployment rate in September 1982

Analysis: The greater disparity between men and women in this recession reflects the heavy impact of layoffs in male-dominated fields, such as construction and manufacturing. Industries with higher female employment, namely education and health care, have actually added jobs during the recession.


15.5 percent: Unemployment rate in October 2009 for those without a high school diploma

11.2 percent: Rate for high school graduates

4.7 percent: Rate for college graduates

3 percent: Unemployment rate in 1982 for college graduates (figure is for full year)

6.8 percent: Proportion of unemployed with college degree in September 1982

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