Economic snapshot | Jobs and Unemployment

No occupation spared: Unemployment elevated across the board

The figure below shows unemployment rates by occupation in 2007 and 2012. While some occupations have higher unemployment rates than others, there is a job shortage in all occupational categories relative to before the recession started. Legal occupations and food preparation and serving occupations are doing the best with respect to where they were before the recession began, but unemployment rates in those occupations are still 1.2 times and 1.4 times as high, respectively, as they were in 2007. All other occupations have unemployment rates more than 1.6 times as high as before the recession began.

In other words, we are not seeing any occupational categories where demand for workers isn’t substantially lower than it was five years ago. Contrary to frequent claims, our unemployment rate doesn’t remain high because employers can’t find the workers they need to fill jobs in particular occupations. Instead, unemployment remains high because of a general weakness in demand for workers.

This snapshot is the third in a series demonstrating that unemployment remains high because of a broad-based lack of demand for workers, not because job seekers aren’t suitable for the jobs that are available. The other two snapshots in this series look at unemployment rates by educational attainment and unemployed workers and job openings by industry.

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