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College graduates less likely to be jobless in Wichita and nation, says report

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, at 5:38 p.m.

Wichita area employment, by education level

Education level % of labor force % of unemployment claims
Less than high school diploma810
High school graduate2546
Some college3528
Four-year college graduate or more3114

Source: Center for Economic Development and Business Research, Wichita State University

A new report shows that college-educated workers in the Wichita area, just as in the nation as a whole, are less likely to be unemployed than their counterparts who have less education.

The Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University said that in the third quarter those with a high school education made up 25 percent of the labor force – those working or actively seeking work – but they accounted for 46 percent of the unemployed, an unemployment rate nearly twice the Wichita-area average of 5.1 percent.

Those with at least four-year college degrees make up about 31 percent of the labor force and 14 percent of the unemployed, for an unemployment rate of about half the overall Wichita unemployment rate.

Two other categories were closer to the community average.

Those with less than four years of college – which could include associate degrees or technical certificates – make up 35 percent of the labor force and 28 percent of the unemployed.

Those with less than a high school education make up 8 percent of the work force and 10 percent of the unemployed.

Nationally, those with a high school education have twice the unemployment rate of those with four-year college degrees, 7.3 percent vs. 3.4 percent in November.

Nationally, employers might be hiring college graduates instead of high school graduates for jobs that don’t require college education, but in Wichita the disparity is also about which sectors got hit the hardest, said Jeremy Hill, the center’s director.

Wichita is a city heavy with manufacturing, and aircraft manufacturing was hit especially hard, he said. Manufacturers, along with construction companies, slashed tens of thousands of production jobs that were heavy with high-school-educated workers. The city’s aircraft manufacturing sector suffered far more job cuts than any other area of the local economy.

Hill said college-educated workers more often tend to be managers or professionals that companies try to hold on to during a recession.

People with four-year college degrees or greater in Wichita did see an uptick in unemployment claims in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, Hill said, likely because Boeing was laying off more staff as it works to wind down operations and close its Wichita facility.

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