The Recession, For People Like You

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A New York Times interactive graphic, "The Jobless Rate for People Like You" makes a very serious point: "Not all groups have felt the recession equally." The graph allows readers to find the unemployment rate for different groups. For white women ages 25 to 44 with a college degree, for example, the jobless rate is 3.6 percent. For a few pundits, sorting out the demographics of the recession was an eye-opener:

  • Do Economic Policymakers Know What It's Like To Be Unemployed?  The Economist's Free Exchange blog says it's "worth thinking about the fact that probably 90% or more of the people who make economic policy, write about economic policy, and produce journalism on economic policy fall into demographic groups in which the unemployment rate—during perhaps the worst recession since the Great Depression—is comfortably below 5%." And they say they finally understand why certain groups were so excited about the election of Barack Obama and the "intensity of the anger at some of the policies he has pursued." They offer a statistic that seems to have shocked them. "Here's a question for you: what is the current unemployment rate among black men, aged 15 to 24, without a high school degree." The answer? "It's 48.5%."
  • The Role of Race  Jill of the Feministe blog says it's hard to look at the interactive and not see a connection between race and unemployment. "It's very telling. When I change my race from white to black, the jobless rate for 'people like me' almost doubles," she writes.
  • A Gut Check  At Think Progress, Matthew Yglesias says the best thing about the graphic is that he now has no excuse for not knowing the unemployment rate for people who are not like him. "Fortunately, I’m also allowed to see how people who aren’t like me are doing. Thus we learn that for African-American men aged 15-24 the unemployment rate is a staggering 30.5 percent. Even for the subset of young black men who have college degrees (which has to be a pretty tiny slice of the 15-24 set) the unemployment rate is 12.7 percent."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.