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Unemployment Rate for Workers With H.S. Degree More Than Double That of College Grads

People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment benefits, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, in Fort Smith, Ark., April 6, 2020. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

Workers with the least education have been hit particularly hard by the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the jobless rate for workers with a high school degree rose to more than twice the rate for those with a college degree in April.

As the coronavirus caused states to issue lockdown orders and all but essential businesses were forced to shutter, the economy shed 20.5 million jobs last month while the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7 percent, eliminating nearly all the country’s job gains since the Great Recession in 2009.

High school graduates without a college degree saw their unemployment rate rise to 17.3 percent in April, while the jobless rate for those who have completed a college degree climbed to only 8.4 percent.

Meanwhile, those with less than a high school degree suffered even more job losses; their unemployment rate surged to 21.2 percent, easily passing the 15.8 all-time high for that demographic during the Great Recession.

Many low-wage jobs such as service industry positions are impossible to perform remotely and have been slashed as restaurants and stores close up shop and lay off scores of workers.

As recently as February, the unemployment rate had dropped to a 50-year low of 3.5 percent.

“Today’s report reflects the massive impact that measures to contain the coronavirus have had on the American workforce,” Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said of the April jobs report, which was released by the department on Friday.

“By re-opening safely, we have the capacity to avoid permanent job losses for the overwhelming percent of Americans who, the report shows, currently view their job loss as temporary,” he added.

The Trump administration has expressed hope that the economy could at least partially recover in the latter half of the year as stay at home orders are relaxed and businesses reopen.

“Those jobs will all be back, and they’ll be back very soon,” President Trump said on Friday.

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