Employment statistics such as the labor force participation rate and unemployment rate provide useful comparisons of important education outcomes. People who have no job and are not looking for one, such as those going to school, those retired, or those who have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from participating in the labor force are not included in the labor force. The unemployment rate is the percentage of the total labor force population that is jobless, looking for a job, and available for work. In 2005, some 65 percent of the population was in the labor force, and 6 percent of the labor force was unemployed. These statistics varied by race/ethnicity and educational attainment.
In 2005 some 12 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives and 11 percent of Blacks ages 16 and over were unemployed. These estimates were higher than the percentages of Hispanics (6 percent), Whites (5 percent), and Asians/Pacific Islanders (4 percent) who were unemployed. Unemployment rates have fluctuated over the past 5 and 10 years with no consistent pattern of change.
In 2005, unemployment rates generally decreased with increased levels of educational attainment and age for each race/ethnicity. For Blacks, the unemployment rate for those with less than high school completion was 24 percent, compared with 11 percent for those who were high school completers and 4 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree. This pattern was also apparent for unemployment rates by the two age groups, 16-to 24-year-olds and adults 25 and older. For example, for Hispanics age 25 and over, the unemployment rate for those with less than high school completion was 7 percent, compared with 5 percent for those who were high school completers and 2 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree. Additionally, for each race/ethnicity except Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, the unemployment rates were higher for those ages 16 to 24 than for those 25 years and over. For example, 9 percent of Asian 16- to 24-year-olds were unemployed, compared with 4 percent of Asians age 25 and over.
Some similarities in unemployment rates were apparent across racial/ethnic groups when examining high school completers. For 16- to 24-year-old high school completers, there was no measurable difference in the unemployment rates of Whites (11 percent) and Hispanics (12 percent). However, the unemployment rate for Blacks in this group (25 percent) was twice the rates of Whites and Hispanics. For adults age 25 and over with the same educational attainment, the unemployment rates for Whites, Hispanics, and Asians were similar (5 percent for each group), while the rate for Blacks (9 percent) was higher.
Some 68 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders ages 16 years and over were in the labor force in 2005. These estimates were higher than the percentages of Blacks (63 percent) and American Indians/Alaska Natives (59 percent). The percentage of Hispanics in the labor force was also higher than the percentage of Whites (65 percent), but the percentages of Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders in the labor force were not measurably different.