Skip to main content
The FRED® Blog

Posts tagged with: "LNS12027659"

View this series on FRED

Employment losses are largest for the least educated

The FRED Blog has discussed how unemployment rates are inversely related to educational attainment and how they change during recessions. In short: Workers with more education are richer in so-called human capital and tend to be able to adapt more easily to changes in large-scale labor market conditions.

The FRED graph above shows employment levels after the COVID-19-related recession began. The length of the bars represents the percent change,  relative to a year ago, in the number of employed people 25 years and older. And these workers are divided into groups according to educational attainment.

Workers who didn’t graduate from high school had the largest losses in employment. Workers who did graduate from high school, including those  with some college or an associate degree, also experienced significant losses in employment but fared a bit better. Workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher were able, for the most part, to remain employed.

The second FRED graph shows the same four groups of workers but for the previous recession, from December 2007 to June 2009. Although these bars don’t go as far into negative territory, we see a similar pattern: At least initially, the more-educated labor force was more resilient. As the recession passed the 12-month mark, however, all education groups started to report losses in employment.

Low educational attainment isn’t necessarily a permanent trait, so it’s possible for workers who are laid off to exit the labor force, gain more human capital through formal education, and re-enter the labor force as more-educated workers. When they do this, they can expect to enjoy steadier employment. To learn more about education’s effects on employment stability, read the work of Isabel Cairo and Tomaz Cajner.

How these graphs were created: Start from Table A-4 of the Current Population Survey, select the series you want shown, and click “Add to Graph.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, select units “Percent Change from Year Ago” and click on “Copy to all.” From the “Format” tab, select “Graph type: Bar.” Adjust the sample period to match the dates displayed in each graph.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS12027659, LNS12027660, LNS12027662, LNS12027689

U.S. labor before FRED was born

A happy-birthday backward glance at 1991

Today, FRED celebrates its 28th birthday. On this happy occasion, the whole family (FRED, ALFRED, GeoFRED, and the little one, FREDcast) are gathering to read the 2018 Annual Report of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, much of which is dedicated to FRED.

Let’s look back at the U.S. economy before the birth of FRED (on April 18, 1991) and compare it with the economy of today. The graph above shows the unemployed according to the length of their unemployment spell: We can see there are many more long-term unemployed today. The second graph, which uses a dataset first released right after FRED was born, shows that the U.S. labor force has also become more educated.

We can’t offer our readers any cake, but we do have pie…charts. The two charts below compare men and women in the labor force and show that the share of women has increased a bit in the past 28 years. The change may not be obvious until you hover over the chart to verify it.

How these graphs were created: Start from the Current Population Survey, navigate to the release table you’re interested in, check the series you want displayed, and click “Add to Graph.” For the first two graphs, use the “Edit Graph” panel’s “Format” tab and select graph type “Area” with “Percent” stacked. Adjust the start date for the first graph. For the pie charts, chose graph type “Pie” and adjust the dates.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS11000025, LNS11000026, LNS12027659, LNS12027660, LNS12027662, LNS12027689, UEMP15T26, UEMP27OV, UEMP5TO14, UEMPLT5

Some educational effects on employment

Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, labor markets have improved dramatically. National unemployment rates have fallen from 10 percent to 4.9 percent. In no small part, this has been driven by the roughly 10 million new jobs created. Even so, labor market improvements haven’t been evenly distributed across the U.S. population: Those with higher levels of education have done much better than those with lower levels.

The graph shows the total, post-recession change in employment for workers over 25 years of age grouped by level of education. In the first year after the recession, few if any new jobs were created for anyone, regardless of education. After the first year, jobs steadily increased for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. And it took another year for labor markets to improve for those with some college or an associate’s degree.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those with, at most, a high school education. Since the end of the recession, these individuals continue to experience no net job growth. Labor markets have not improved for everyone.

How this graph was created: Search for “Employment Level” and select the following tags (in the left sidebar): “education,” “25 years +,” and “sa.” Select the four series and click “Add to Graph.” Edit the range of the graph to start in June 2009 using the controls in the top right-hand corner or the sliding bar below the graph. Because we want to see how employment has changed since the end of the recession, we need to change employment levels to cumulative changes in employment since June 2009. Here’s how we do that: For each series, find the June 2009 value and subtract it by using the “Create your own data transformation” field: For example, for “Employment Level: Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over,” the June 2009 value is 43,362; so you will apply the formula a-43362. After transforming each series, if the y-axis title and y-axis labels overlap, reduce the general font size in the “Graph Settings” menu.

Suggested by Michael McCracken and Joseph McGillicuddy.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS12027659, LNS12027660, LNS12027662, LNS12027689


Subscribe to the FRED newsletter


Follow us

Back to Top