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Shocking: High School Grads Twice As Likely To Be Jobless Than College Grads – and Right-Wingers are Profiting From Their Pain

The economic meltdown has hit non-college grads much harder than the educated. And conservatives are very good at exploiting their anger and unease.

You know how bad the economy is, right? Maybe your 401(k) has tanked. Perhaps you were out of work for a few months. You could have a mortgage under water. Or your health insurance has an impossibly high deductible. Yeah, we're all singing the blues.

I've gotten out my violin to play a mournful accompaniment to our collective angst.

Wait, what's that I hear in the distance? A dissonant, thundering chord someone just hammered on the piano -- a harsh interruption of my languid dirge. Now it repeats, getting louder and nearer.

It's the sound of rage, of people I don't know -- millions of them -- unable to make rent or feed their families.  Why don't I know them? They don't have college degrees, and nearly everybody I know does.

The truth is, brothers and sisters, however much we the degreed are suffering, we don't know the half of it. And unless we familiarize ourselves with the other half very, very soon, what was supposed to be a new progressive era could quickly give way to the rage of the Tea Party.

We all know that unemployment is high -- 10 percent nationwide, and higher than that in certain geographic pockets. (Michigan tops the states with more than 15 percent.) Economists tell us that when you factor in all the underemployed people, and those who have given up looking for work, the national employment picture is more like 17 percent who are either out of work or barely working. But chances are, if you're at all like me, those numbers tell you that something's terribly wrong, but your day-to-day life is more or less holding together.  Those who do not possess a college diploma are having a far more visceral experience of this recession.

Among college graduates, the unemployment rate for October was 4.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF). For people with some college or an Associate's degree, the rate is almost doubled, at 9 percent. Among high school graduates who never went to college, 11 percent are unemployed, while high-school drop-outs show a whopping 15.5 percent unemployed.

So, unless you know a lot of people who never graduated college, you really have no idea just how bad things are.

Maybe that's why the political establishment in Washington, D.C., was stunned last week when members of the Black Congressional Caucus came together in the House Financial Services Committee to halt a financial reform bill put together by committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-MA. While CBC members took issue with some specific provisions in the bill, the real intent of the caucus members' stalling was to protest the administration's lackluster response to the growing jobs crisis within their constituencies. (Among African Americans, the unemployment rate for October was 15.7 percent, according to BLS, compared to 9.5 percent for white people. According to a 2003 survey by the U.S. Census, 17 percent of blacks had college diplomas, compared to 27.2 percent of whites.)

A poll released last week by ABC News and the Washington Post found that 30 percent of Americans say that either they or someone in their household has lost a job in the past year, a finding the pollsters present as a new high. But, because it's an average, that figure tells only part of the story. Those losses are not evenly distributed across the economy; pollsters found that people living in households with income of less than $50,000 were twice as likely to have experienced a job loss by a member of their household than those with earnings above that threshold.

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