Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Education and Unemployment in NW Oregon
by Erik A Knoder
Published Jun-24-2013

 
People with more education generally fare better in the job market; that's true locally as well as nationally, and in and out of recessions. Year after year national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that people with more education have lower rates of unemployment. In April 2013 the national unemployment rate for people with less than a high school diploma was 11.4 percent. It was half that for high school graduates and the rate was halved again to 3.6 percent for college graduates. But what's the story for NW Oregon?

Unfortunately, the monthly unemployment survey is too small to make similar estimates for rural counties, but information for unemployment insurance claimants in rural counties is available. These data show a similar pattern for NW Oregon: people with more education tend to make up relatively less of the unemployment claimant pool.

It is important to note that unemployment insurance claimants do not necessarily represent all unemployed people. Only about 25 percent of Oregonians who were unemployed in April 2013 were claiming unemployment benefits. Still, looking at the characteristics of unemployment insurance claimants can indicate the value of education to some people.

The table compares the percentage of adults over age 25 who have a given level of education with the percentage of claimants who have the same level of education. For example, people who have attained no more than a high school diploma made up only 28 percent of the adult population of Clatsop County, but made up fully 52 percent of the county's unemployment claimants in 2012.

Table 1
 Educational Attainment of the Adult Population (2009-2011) and Unemployment Claimants (2012) 
   Clatsop     Columbia     Tillamook 
  25 Years and Over  Claimants    25 Years and Over  Claimants    25 Years and Over  Claimants 
Population/Claimants 26,332 2,627   34,037 3,271   18,670 1,665
Less than 9th grade 2% 3%   3% 2%   4% 2%
9th to 12th grade, no diploma 6% 12%   9% 10%   9% 11%
High school graduate or GED 28% 52%   34% 59%   33% 63%
Some college, no degree 0 0   0 0   0 0
Associate's degree 0 0   0 0   0 0
Bachelor's degree 0 0   0 0   0 0
Graduate or professional degree 8% 2%   6% 1%   6% 2%
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and Oregon Employment Department