By Joe Guzzardi
February 29, 2012
Skeptics question the official federal 8.3 unemployment rate. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics ignored as part of its count the 1.2 million Americans who stopped seeking employment in January, a deceptively lower rate was guaranteed.
But no matter how the data are crunched one jobless sub-section fell further behind—high school drop outs. Since January 2010, the BSL reported hundreds of thousands of drop outs lost jobs.
Less than 40 percent of the 25 million Americans over age 25 without a high school diploma has a job. Those that do earn an average $23,000 gross salary, significantly below the cost to live decently.
Experts predict worse ahead. By 2020, according to a 2011 McKinsey Global Institute study originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, there will be six million more high school dropout than jobs available to them. Overall, the employment rate for young adults ages 18 to 24 including those with high school educations is the highest it’s been in more than half a century.
The consequences are dire and may last a lifetime. The steady erosion of manufacturing and other blue collar jobs means that fewer net new jobs are created for drop outs, thus minimizing future opportunities. That, in turn, leads to lives that are twice as likely to end up in poverty as those who complete high school. As he ages, the drop out’s prospects grow bleaker.
The Journal cited Pittsburgh as an example. An area analysis of available jobs offered by Monster.com found that of 1,000 listings, only two didn’t require a diploma. One was a hotel housecleaning position that paid $8.50 an hour.
The pattern of fewer opportunities for the under-educated is an extension of an alarming trend that began in 2000. A decade ago, labor force participation for native-born Americans regardless of high school status began to fall dramatically. Gradually, according to research conducted in 2010 at Boston’s Northeastern University Center for Labor Market Studies, young, unskilled or semi-skilled immigrants willing to work for lower wages replaced native-born workers.
The Northeastern University report begs the question why immigration continues unabated despite mounting evidence gathered over more than a decade that it’s hurtful to society’s lower tiers. Logic dictates that every new adult immigrant added to the population puts an American worker at risk. Among employed drop outs, for example, 40 percent are immigrants.
The report begs the question why immigration continues unabated despite mounting evidence over more than a decade that it’s hurtful to society’s lower tiers. Logic dictates that every new adult immigrant added to the population puts an American worker at risk. Among employed drop outs, for example, 40 percent are immigrants.
The often heard argument that America needs illegal aliens and high levels of legal immigration has validity only to those who dismiss its negative impact on the less-educated, native-born. Politicians often pay lip service to the unemployed poor and offer impractical, long term band aide solutions like training or GED classes. But years away from the classroom make the transition back to a learning environment difficult if not impossible. Restricting immigration would have the most beneficial and immediate long term impact on drop outs’ job prospects.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]