Woe is not primarily me

Ed Glaeser makes an important point about the current recession over at Economix:

it is important to recognize that in this recession, just as in every other recorded downturn, unemployment is overwhelmingly concentrated among those who started with less.

The overall unemployment rate for the more educated is only 4.3 percent. Individuals with a high school degree, but no college, have a 10 percent unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted). The unemployment rate for high school dropouts is 15.5 percent. Moreover, the unemployment rate gap between the most- and least-skilled is widening, not narrowing.

It’s easy for professionals to complain about the problems facing the finance system and the lack of work for finance professionals. Let’s not forget that they are actually very well off compared to the average person in this recession, as in others. Governments may be bailing out financial firms but, if we want to help the most people, we should think about how best to aid the less fortunate among us who are suffering far more.

6 replies
  1. Matt Nolan
    Matt Nolan says:

    Which is why it is important to remember that one of the big differences between now and the GD is the existence of a large scale safety net for the unemployed …

  2. rauparaha
    rauparaha says:

    It certainly is important to think about equity issues; however, I think Glaeser is correct that they have been disproportionately neglected in the current recession.

  3. Matt Nolan
    Matt Nolan says:


    Equity is often viewed as a “normal good” that is purchased by those with a claim on resources – during a recession their consumption of this good falls, and the cost to the poor is very real …

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