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Men's Working Lives
Women at Work: Values
In the first half of the century, the unemployment rate oscillated from a low of 1.4 percent in 1918–1919 to a peak of 24.9 percent in 1933 and then to another low of 1.2 percent in 1944. After 1950, these fluctuations became less severe as the business cycle moderated (see page 244).
Before and after the Great Depression, unemployment was largely a blue-collar affliction. Nearly two-thirds of the male factory workers in a sample of Middletown families interviewed by the Lynds had at least one spell of unemployment during the first nine months of 1924. None of the white-collar employees in the sample had that experience.
At the end of the century, blue-collar workers had about twice the unemployment risk of white-collar workers. Within the white-collar group, sales and clerical personnel had about twice the risk of managers.
Education, race, and age generated differences as well. High school dropouts had about twice the unemployment risk of high school graduates, who in turn had about twice the risk of college graduates. Blacks had about twice the risk of whites. Men younger than age twenty-four had about twice the risk of men older than twenty-four. These relative differences tended to persist even as the rate of unemployment fluctuated.
HS series D 86; SA 1979, table 671; SA 1982–1983, table 654; SA 1998, table 677; and SA 1999, table 682. See also Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, table A-1, at www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab1.htm (accessed August 23, 2000).