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Changing Face of Unemployment

The American public somewhat used to the image of the unemployed steelworker or the auto plant faced with imminent closure. The crash of 1987 created a brief spate of redundant stockbrokers. Of late, the downsized internet employee is almost a given. But did anyone ever expect a downturn and job losses in the American customer service and technology sectors? Moreover, did anyone anticipate these well-paying jobs to move to foreign destinations? What does this do to the shape of the "new new economy?"

Some pundits say that the U.S economy is finally in recovery. However, with the current unemployment rate at 6.2% - the highest since April 1994 - those 9 million unemployed Americans are asking "where are the jobs?" Of those unemployed, two million have been out of work for more than six months. Even college graduates are feeling the pain. The jobless rate among college graduates is at its highest in a decade. According to the Department of Labor, since the beginning of the recession in 2001, 3.2 million jobs have been lost in the private sector. The continuing unfavorable unemployment situation of 2002 and 2003 represent the first consecutive years of employment drops since the late '50s. THE ECONOMIST magazine reported in August 2003 that job cuts rose by 43% in July and many companies are planning additional layoffs to come.

Unlike the large losses in manufacturing during the 1970s, job losses did not affect just one sector during the recent economic downturn. Instead, all sectors of the economy (blue- and white-collar workers alike) are feeling the pain. In fact, the jobless rate among college graduates was at its highest in a decade in August 2003. The Labor Department says that white-collar unemployment is the highest it has ever been, nearly 9%. And, as reported in NOW's "Foreign Service," some of these jobs are moving offshore.

Now every state has a Web site dedicated to aiding its workers. You can find information on unemployment compensation, job listings, and advice for your locale on our Employment Resource Map.

Face of Unemployment

Annual unemployment rate, construction industry, 2000/2002:  6.8%/10.9%
Annual unemployment rate, manufacturing, 2000/2002:  3.3%/6.6%
Annual unemployment rate, financial activities industry, 2000/2002:  2.3%/3.6%
Annual unemployment rate, professional and business services, 2000/2002:  4.8%/7.9%
Unemployment rates for people without a highschool diploma, 1993/2003:  10.8%/8.2%
Unemployment rates for high school graduates, no college, 1993/2003:  6.3%/5.4%
Unemployment rates for some college or associate degree, 1993/2003:  5.2%/5.2%
Unemployment rates for bachelor's degree and higher, 1993/2003:  2.9%/3.4%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The annual jobless rate in the United States in 2002 was 5.8%. It might not seem like much when compared to some European nations, but it is something Americans haven't been familiar with of late. The newest unemployment figures show that the benefits for 370,000 out-of-work people expired in September alone. It's actually worse than the unemployment situation during the recession 10 years ago.

Forrester Research projects that European nations will soon be sending more of their white collars jobs offshore as well. The 3.3 million American jobs projected to move overseas by 2015 will be doubled to at least 6.6 million when the job losses in the rest of the G7 countries (Japan, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Canada) are added in.

Not Working Worldwide

United States unemployment rate, 2002:  5.8%
Canadian unemployment rate, 2002:  7.0%
Australian unemployment rate, 2002:  6.3%
French unemployment rate, 2002:  8.8%
German unemployment rate, 2002:  8.4%
Italian unemployment rate, 2002:  9.1%
Japanese unemployment rate, 2002:  5.4%
Dutch unemployment rate, 2002:  2.4%
Swedish unemployment rate, 2002:  5.2%
United Kingdom unemployment rate, 2002:  5.2%

Sources: THE ECONOMIST; AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS; National Labor Relations Board; Bureau of Labor Statistics; OECD Statistics; Japanese Labor Statistics

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