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The Most Painful Gap in Unemployment Numbers

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New unemployment figures show the tragic impact of the COVID-19 lockdown – while exposing the chief source of economic inequality.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, racial disparities don’t make the biggest difference. In fact, the gap between black unemployment and white unemployment got smaller in the current collapse – with 16% of blacks unemployed and 14% of whites.

Education levels made a much bigger difference than race: among those who never finished high school, 21% are out of work, nearly three times the 8% unemployment for people who’ve earned a four-year degree or more.  A full tenth of American adults over 25 still lack a high school diploma or GED; and even without a pandemic, those individuals suffer in marriage, health and earning capacity.

Once this coronavirus crisis passes, we need less emphasis on sending every American to college and more focus on making sure that every citizen graduates high school, and learns an employable skill.

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