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Beyond the Unemployment Rate: Meet the Out-of-Work

A new report from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program provides a firstever view of adults ages 25 to 64 who are out-of-work in 130 large cities and counties across the U.S. It shows that despite a low national unemployment rate, millions of Americans still want or need work, and their profile varies greatly across different communities.

The report concludes that, the out-of-work population can be segmented into the following seven major groups of similar individuals with shared challenges to employment.

  1. Young, less-educated, and diverse (11 percent)
  2. Less-educated prime-age people; many English language-learners (38 percent)
  3. Diverse, less-educated, and eyeing retirement (6 percent)
  4. Motivated and moderately educated younger people (14 percent)
  5. Moderately educated older people (12 percent)
  6. Highly educated and engaged younger people (9 percent)
  7. Highly educated, high-income older people (11 percent)

The seven groups distribute differently across places, reflecting how demographics and regional economic strength vary across the country.

The report is accompanied by an interactive website that allows users to explore local data. A companion analysis on the out-of-work population ages 18 to 24 across the 130 study jurisdictions is forthcoming.

Explore the Data and Report