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Measuring Obama’s Link Between Education, Employment

Government data supports President Obama's assertion to schoolchildren that a better education leads to better jobs.

Government data supports President Obama's assertion to schoolchildren that a better education leads to better jobs.

On the eve of President Obama’s speech to Congress on healthcare, the president spent some time this week talking up the importance of education to school children.

What did President Obama say to the kids (transcript)?

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

So, how accurate is the president’s linkage of education and employability? While many fields requiring stellar educational chops are suffering, too, numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics say Americans with more education are keeping jobs better than those with less. (Click on the image two times for a larger picture).

Unemployment by Education Levels 2009

Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher are faring much better than those with a high school degree or less. The data looks at numbers from April 2008 to August 2009; college grads had a 4.4 percent rate, and high school grads only were at 9.3 percent in April.

While that’s a large delta and only one month, there are other seasonally adjusted numbers that illuminate the value of education. As the economy worsened in 2009, the numbers for the less-educated went up by a larger margin, from 5.8 percent in April 2008 to 9.7  percent in August 2009. Unemployment rates for Americans with a bachelor’s degree or above rose from 2.7 percent in April 2008 to 4.7 percent in August 2009.

[Images by BLS.gov]

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