America's Employment Outlook

May 28, 1982

Report Outline
Current Labor Market
The High-Technology Era
White-Collar Work Force
Structural Unemployment
Special Focus

Current Labor Market

High Unemployment Linked to Recession

At a recent afl-cio conference in washington, D.C., former Vice President Walter F. Mondale stated that the three biggest issues facing Americans today were “jobs, jobs and jobs.” Later the same day, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., told the unionists that the most important issues facing Americans were “jobs, jobs and more jobs.” This rhetorical replay may have been amusing, but there is nothing funny about the current employment situation in the United States. As the recession drags on, unemployment has reached a post-Depression high. The April unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, as measured by the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, was the highest since 1941. Not since 1938 have as many as 10.3 million job-seekers been unable to find work.

These numbers do not tell the whole story: 5.8 million people are working only part time and 1.3 million are so-called “discouraged” workers, who have at least temporarily given up the job search. Certain segments of the population have been hit particularly hard. Black unemployment is 18.4 percent, black teen-age unemployment 48.1 percent, and Hispanic joblessness 12.5 percent. Unemployment in the goods-producing sector also is in double digits: construction, 19.4 percent; agriculture, 14.6 percent; and manufacturing, 11.3 percent. The impact has been harshest in the industrial Great Lakes and Midwest states and the timber-reliant Northwest states (see map, p. 390). The deep slump in the auto industry has put Michigan, with a 15 percent unemployment rate, on a near-depression footing

According to a recent Gallup poll, unemployment has become Americans' greatest worry. Of those surveyed, 44 percent called unemployment the country's greatest problem, followed by inflation at 24 percent. Eighty-five percent of the respondents said they would take a 10 percent pay cut to avoid a layoff and 77 percent said they would be unlikely to find a comparable job if they were laid off. For the first time in generations, a large majority of Americans appear pessimistic about financial and career growth, for themselves and for the work force at large.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mar. 06, 2020  Universal Basic Income
Mar. 18, 2016  The Gig Economy
Mar. 06, 2012  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 31, 2009  Straining the Safety Net
Apr. 10, 2009  Business Bankruptcy
Mar. 13, 2009  Vanishing Jobs
Apr. 25, 2003  Unemployment Benefits
Jan. 21, 1994  Worker Retraining
Sep. 09, 1988  Help Wanted: Why Jobs Are Hard to Fill
Mar. 18, 1983  The Youth Unemployment Puzzle
Dec. 24, 1982  Federal Jobs Programs
May 28, 1982  America's Employment Outlook
Jun. 27, 1980  Unemployment Compensation
Oct. 14, 1977  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 11, 1975  Underemployment in America
Dec. 16, 1970  Unemployment in Recessions
Mar. 05, 1965  Unemployment Benefits in Times of Prosperity
Apr. 03, 1964  Overtime Pay Rates and Unemployment
Feb. 01, 1961  Unemployment and New Jobs
Jan. 07, 1959  Lag in Employment
Apr. 16, 1958  Emergency Jobless Aid
May 16, 1956  Lay-Off Pay Plans
Nov. 12, 1953  Jobless Compensation in Boom and Recession
Feb. 25, 1949  Defenses Against Unemployment
Jul. 30, 1945  Full Employment
Nov. 25, 1940  Unemployment Compensation
Jul. 10, 1939  Problem of the Migrant Unemployed
May 19, 1936  Unemployment and Recovery
Sep. 02, 1931  Public Employment Exchanges
Aug. 19, 1929  The Stabilization of Employment
Feb. 21, 1928  The Employment Situation in the United States
Jan. 23, 1926  Unemployment Insurance in the United States
Computers and the Internet
Science and Mathematics Education
Unemployment and Employment Programs