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Yes, the unemployment rate is still high. But those without a college degree are hurting even more, according to President Barack Obama, who was in Austin last week to raise money for fellow Democrats.
"Now, I know some folks argue that as we emerge from the worst recession since the Great Depression, my administration should focus solely on economic issues," he said during a side speech at the University of Texas at Austin on Aug. 9. "But as I said the other week to the National Urban League, education is an economic issue. It may be the economic issue of our time. It’s an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have."
Matt Lehrich, a White House spokesman, pointed us to employment data kept by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Looking at labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey, the unemployment rate for those with at least a bachelor's degree was 4.5 percent in July 2010, while 10.1 percent of high school graduates who didn't attend college were without jobs. Add those who never graduated from high school, and the unemployment rate creeps up to 11 percent.
That's more than double the unemployment rate for Americans with a bachelor's, master's, doctorate or professional degree. Include those who attend attended "some college" or earned an associates degree, and the jobless rate for the college crowd is 6 percent. So, as of July, the unemployment rate for those who never went to college is almost double what it is for those who have.
How did the two unemployment rates shake out historically? The data during the last two years show similar ratios.
In 2009, on average, about 10.9 percent of those who never attended college were unemployed, while 6.1 percent of those with at least some college were unemployed. In 2008, the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent for those without college, and about 3.1 for those who had.
We rate Obama's statement as True.
Speech by President Barack Obama at the University of Texas at Austin, Aug. 9, 2010
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment, last updated Aug. 6, 2010
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household data, annual averages: Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population 25 years and over by educational attainment, sex, race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 2008 and 2009
The Washington Post, The benefits of a college degree in one graph, Aug. 11, 2010
The Atlantic, For college graduates, does the recession exist?, Aug. 12, 2010
E-mail interview with Matt Lehrich, White House spokesman, Aug. 11, 2010
E-mail interview with Ann Hatchitt, director of communications, Texas Workforce Commission, Aug. 13, 2010
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