Unemployment remains high for the less educated. While the official jobless rate for those with college degrees stands at 4.2 percent, this compares to an 8.4 percent jobless rate for those without a high school diploma, which is slightly higher than the national rate. Youth unemployment is particularly high, 23.2 percent, according to BLS figures.
Lawmakers have reacted to unemployment among the poorly educated in a predictably reactionary way, blaming the lack of education in the workforce in general as the reason for high unemployment. Some politicians have even demanded that those without diplomas obtain a GED (general equivalency diploma) as a precondition for receiving jobless benefits. This is under conditions where public schools, particularly in poorer districts, are starved for cash, teachers are vilified, and students pay the price.
In a similar vein, a recent article in the Washington Post made the claim that as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs were vacant for want of experienced personnel to take them. However, BLS data show that fewer than 250,000 jobs are in fact being offered in manufacturing industries, a number several times smaller than the total reported demand for work among unemployed but qualified workers.