The unemployment rate, one of the important labor market outcomes related to educational attainment, is the percentage of the total labor force population that is jobless, looking for a job, and available for work. People who have no job and are not looking for one, such as those who are going to school, who have retired, or who have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from participating in the labor force are not included in the labor force and are not considered unemployed. In 2008, about 5 percent of the labor force ages 16 and over were unemployed; however, this rate varied by race/ethnicity and level of educational attainment.View Table 28
In 2008, for person ages 16 and over, the unemployment rates for Hispanics (8 percent), Blacks (9 percent), American Indians/Alaska Natives (10 percent) and persons of two or more races (10 percent) were higher than the rates for Asians and Whites (4 percent each).31 Youth and young adults (ages 16 to 24) generally had higher unemployment rates than adults ages 25 and over, and differences in unemployment rates were found among racial/ethnic groups within each age group. Among 16- to 24-year-olds, the unemployment rate for Blacks (20 percent) was higher than the rate for Hispanics (13 percent), and both were higher than the rates for Whites (9 percent) and Asians (7 percent). In addition, among adults ages 25 and over, the unemployment rates for Blacks, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and persons of two or more races (8 percent each) and Hispanics (6 percent) were higher than the unemployment rates for Whites (4 percent) and Asians (3 percent).
In general, lower unemployment rates were associated with higher levels of education for each racial/ethnic group. While the overall unemployment rate for those over 16 years old was 5 percent, it was 13 percent for those without a high school diploma and 2 percent for those with at least a bachelor's degree. Similarly, the unemployment rate for Blacks without a high school credential was 22 percent, compared with 11 percent for those with a high school credential and 4 percent for those with at least a bachelor's degree. This pattern was also generally evident in the unemployment rates for the two age groups—youth and young adults ages 16 to 24 and adults ages 25 and over. For example, for Hispanic adults (ages 25 and over) who did not complete high school, the unemployment rate was 9 percent, compared with 6 percent for those whose highest level of education was a high school credential and 3 percent for those who completed at least a bachelor's degree.View Figure 28
31 No statistical differences were found between the unemployment rate for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and the rate of any other race/ethnicity group shown; the estimates for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders had relatively large standard errors.