Federal data shows troubling unemployment, underemployment trends

People with extra education qualifications are more likely to be working than those with few skills or qualifications. For example, the full-time employment-population ratio for whites without high-school qualifications fell from a 2000 high of 35 percent to a 2010 low of only 27 percent. With part-time work included, the 2010 ratio for white dropouts was 39 percent.

Among blacks who also left high school without qualifications, the full-time ratio fell from 30 percent to a mere 21 percent. That means only one-in-five male African-American high-school dropouts has a full-time job. If part-time work is included, the ratio for male African-American dropouts began at 40 percent in 2000, and fell to 31 percent by 2010.

In contrast, 76 percent of male African-American university graduates had a full-time job in 2002, and 64.5 percent still had a full-time job in 2010.

Ratios are also lower among younger workers.

(Long-term unemployment worse than during Great Depression)

For all men age 25 to 29, the ratio fell from 89 percent in 2000 to 78 percent in 2010. That’s an 11 point drop, and almost twice as much as the 6-point drop among similar-aged women, whose ratio fell from 74 percent to 68 percent over the same period. The ratio among all black males aged 25 to 29, fell from 77.3 percent to 63 percent in 2010. For black males aged 20 to 24, the ratio fell from 65 percent to 54 percent.

That steep decline among younger people is especially painful, said Sum, because it takes many years for unemployed youths to catch up to the experience and wages of steadily employed peers. In turn, that earning shortfall makes it less likely they will marry the women they make pregnant, and less likely they’ll serve as beneficial fathers to their children, and more likely their children will fall even further behind, he said.

(Obama defaults to economic blame game)

The employment ratio among whites is usually higher than the ratio among blacks, but both are trending downwards. The ratio among the Hispanic population usually fall somewhere between Caucasian and African-American ratios.

But the Hispanic numbers conceals an significant split. The workforce ratio of U.S.-born Hispanics is lower than that of immigrant Hispanics, according to government data shown by Steve Camarota, a researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies.

For example, in late 2010, almost 40 percent of U.S.-born Hispanic high-school dropouts grads unemployed, but also 30 percent of immigrant Hispanic dropouts were unemployed. Among 18-29 year-old high school grads, the unemployment rate for U.S.-born Hispanics was 35 percent. Among similar Hispanic immigrants, the unemployment rate was 27 percent.

Employment and high education