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Unemployment Drop Still Leaves Low Skill Workers Behind

Washington Post (02/07/12) Michael Fletcher

Although the U.S. unemployment rate is now at a three-year low of 8.3%, experts say workers with a high school diploma or less have few employment opportunities. Close to 33% of the labor market has just a high school diploma, and the Urban Institute says more than 10% of these workers joined the ranks of the unemployed from late 2007 to early 2011. Meanwhile, about 20% of high school dropouts have become unemployed since 2007, and 13.1% of this group was unemployed in January.

Experts say finding a place in the work force for low-skilled workers remains a challenge, especially as community college budgets for job training programs have been cut. Linda Rice, president of Brevard Workforce, a job-training and placement service in Brevard County, FL, says many of these workers lack the necessary math, computer, and technical problem-solving skills.