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Happy Times for Professionals

Posted by: Michael Mandel on April 06

According to today’s jobs report, the unemployment rate for professionals in March was only 1.7%. That’s the lowest level it has been since 2001.

(Professionals includes software engineers, architects, engineers, scientists, lawyers, teachers, artists, editors, writers, doctors, registered nurses, social workers, and more).

If we look at the 12-month moving average for the unemployment rate for professionals, that’s down to 2.1%, also at the lowest level since 2001.


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Reader Comments

Brandon W

April 6, 2007 06:07 PM

Fabulous... except that fewer than 1 in 4 Americans even has a Bachelor's degree, much-less falls into the "professionals" category. Last I checked, a lot of people earning Bachelor's degrees can only land retail jobs. I'm doubtful that even 1 in 7 Americans counts as a "professional".

I mean, that's just too bad for the other 85% of Americans, it's their fault for being too dumb or in the wrong market. But I wanted to point out how few "professionals" there really are. Probably because I'm a skeptical jerk. :-)


April 7, 2007 04:07 PM

Yes, you can thank me. I no longer look; if they want me they can find me.

Joe Cushing

April 8, 2007 11:22 PM

Brandon W,

You're right but that's what Grad school is for. Once you realize you are in the wrong field you go back for a quick retraining in a more professional major. The only thing is you can't go to grad school and be in retail management but no-one else will hire you once you start down the retail path. so you have to do something crazy and get a job driving a semi. That's what I did.

Mike M

April 9, 2007 12:21 PM

Brandon W.,

The Unemployment Rate for college graduates also was below 2% last month. The only time it was lower was in the late '90s.

But, it's also interesting to see that the labor force participation rate of college graduates has been falling steadily since 1992 (when the data begins), though it did reach an apparten 4-year high recently.

Any thoughts on that Michael Mandel?

Brandon W

April 9, 2007 01:11 PM

Flipping burgers for minimum wage counts as "employed", even if you have a PhD. The U.S. doesn't really track underemployment. Having a Bachelor's degree may put you in a relatively elite crowd (about 24% of the population), but it doesn't mean you're working as a "professional." It just means you have additional school debt to pay off with your paycheck from selling sweaters at The Gap. I guess having a degree might make you more likely to work your way up to manager at The Gap store, but does that count as being a "professional?"

Mike Mandel

April 10, 2007 08:56 AM

Hi Brandon

These stats don't count retail managers as professionals (journalists, however, do count as professionals). I'm going to take a look at the stats and let you know about the distribution of income of college grads.

Joe Cushing

April 10, 2007 02:00 PM


We always talk about employment/unemployment rates and the number of jobs created/lost; and everyone always says what is wrong with these stats. Why don't we have stats that show the number/rate of employment in jobs that are life sustaining? pick some level above the poverty line with a certain standard of living and track jobs that bring that income in 2000 hours or less per year. This incorporates both pay per hour and pay per year. Both are essential in determining quality of life. If it takes you 60 hours a week to buy the most basic home and transportation, that's not a good job. But if you can buy the basics with a 40 hour job, that's not great but it is far better than the 60 hour job.

For example. In Metro Detroit $15 an hour for 2000 hours or $30,000 for a single person is scraping buy. It's better than the retail job you are talking about though. They pay 10 to 13 an hour here. They pay more than the 30k though because they work their tails off. You could have a stat that tracks jobs created at this level and above and employment rates at this level and above. Anyone who falls below this level is considered un or underemployed. The level would have to be ajustd for local conditions and inflation.

Brandon W

April 10, 2007 07:13 PM

Interesting idea. I'm in Ann Arbor, by the way.


April 17, 2007 10:46 AM

Another interesting statistic to compile would be the percentage of entrepreneurs with various levels of education and their relative levels of success (whether or not they're still in business five years later).

As far as many jobs are concerned, you really can't even apply without a college degree. And since government jobs have been growing faster than the rest of the economy for the past few years, the growth of professionals' job prospects really just tracks growth in government.


April 21, 2007 01:16 AM

Too bad I ad to spend 120k to be unemployed! lol I'm a pharmacist and it amazes me companies hire people just because of their degrees. I personally know pharmacy technicians that would make way better pharmacists than many of the students coming out of my school now.


April 23, 2007 06:12 AM

I wonder if your attitude plays a part in this? Nah, keep whining on a internet messageboard, it will get beter just keep whining.....gotta run, i have "work" to do...

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.



Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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