The nation’s jobless rate has declined to its lowest level in three years, a fact that has left Jamie Bean, an unemployed air-conditioner repairman, feeling more left out than ever.
Bean, 36, lost his job in December. Now he is scrambling to keep up with child-support payments to his wife, who is also unemployed. “As it stands now, I can’t afford to get divorced,” he said, managing a wry smile.
Bean’s predicament is not unlike that of many people who have a high school education or less. Not only were they hit especially hard by the recession but they have continued losing ground in the recovery that has followed.
By disproportionate numbers, these Americans have given up looking for work, making the nation’s recovery appear better than it is. If the unemployment rate counted the 2.8 million people who want jobs but have stopped looking, it would sit at 9.9 percent rather than its current 8.3 percent.
A report by the Labor Department stated that unemployment among Black men declined from 15.7 to 12.7 percent. Similarly, the unemployment rate for Black women dropped from 13.9 to 12.6 percent.