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Posted at 2:51 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Who graduates, who votes and who's unemployed -- in one graph

By Ezra Klein

It seems a little crazy that tax cuts for the nation's very richest residents are commanding more political energy and consensus than unemployment insurance. Among other things, the tax cuts aren't popular. Unemployment insurance is. And this is one of the worst economies in memory. You'd think we'd be very worried about mitigating the suffering.

But the political system seems to be moving on to more abstract economic concerns, like the deficit. This graph might help explain why. It compares the unemployment rates of people in different educational groups to not only their share of the population, but to their share of the 2010 electorate:


People with a high school diploma or less are having huge unemployment problems and comprise a fair amount of the country -- but they don't turn out to vote. People with some college or more, conversely, do turn out to vote -- but they're facing a much better job market. In particular, only about a quarter of Americans have a college diploma or better, but they made up 51 percent of the electorate in 2010. And in that group, the unemployment rate is only about 5 percent. If you assume that the political system is particularly attuned to their concerns, the current focus makes more sense.

By Ezra Klein  | December 6, 2010; 2:51 PM ET
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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the most alarming statistic there is that only 25% of the country completed college. That's problem number 1.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 6, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse


Once again you're earning your money. That's fascinating and important that half of voters are college graduates.

Most important 20-something? I know one of the most important.

Hopefully, Democrats can use this positively to push for things like more college aid, or hopefully universal free bachelor's degree. What else?

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | December 6, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

That's a striking graphic. I wonder how it would look if you broke down college graduates by age, because unemployment rates are vastly higher for recent graduates than for those who got a foothold in the economy before the meltdown. I suspect that younger graduates have lower rates of voting than older ones, although the difference may not be as striking as the ones based on employment or educational attainment.

Posted by: csdiego | December 6, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse


you see now i would have taken that as a way to say colleges need to become more affordable and/or individuals need to take the initiative to want to graduate college etc and you ran all the way to ANOTHER entitlement program. WOW. nice work.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 6, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Dean Wormer was right. Fat and stupid is no way to go through life.

Posted by: Jenga918 | December 6, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

E, where are these numbers from?

Posted by: rusone | December 6, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Which is why we need more community organizations to help those at the low end of the education and economic spectrum to vote. And why the Republicans went like an armored tank after ACORN in the aftermath of the 2008 election. We obviously also need to help more people achieve a post-high school education, which I understand to be a goal of this administration. They aren't kidding, though I am skeptical that they will achieve significant success on this front. It's not just a social and economic issue, it's clearly a political issue-- and one for the other side to oppose vehemently. Buckle your seat belts.

Posted by: JJenkins2 | December 6, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

and democrats keep fighting for the lazy high school dropout who don't care to vote, that's a losing strategy

Posted by: amritpalsidhu | December 7, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

What is the source of these numbers?

Posted by: TheCounter | December 7, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I am amazed just how many Americans do not understand how our tax system works. Most of those that are screaming about tax cuts to the rich have never paid any taxes in their life. See, it is pretty simple. IF you work and they take taxes out and you file your taxes at the end of the year and you get a refund larger then you paid in, Well guess what you do not pay taxes. You are a burden .. here see if you can understand this ..
"Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

the first four men, the poorest, would pay nothing;
the fifth would pay $1;
the sixth would pay $3;
the seventh would pay $7;
the eighth pays $12;
the ninth would pay $18;
and the tenth man, the richest, would pay $59.
"That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement --- until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut).

"'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I am going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20. So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00.

"The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six--the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

"The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay:

as before, the first four men paid nothing;
now the fifth man also paid nothing;
the sixth man now paid $2;
the seventh paid $5;
the eighth man paid $9;
the ninth man paid $12;
leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

"But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. 'I only got a dollar out of the $20 reduction,' declared the sixth man, but he, pointing to the tenth. 'But he got $7!'. 'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man, 'I only saved a dollar too; it's unfair that he got seven times more than me!'

'"That's true,' shouted the seventh man, 'why should he get $7 back when I got only $2?

Posted by: gingerrabbit | December 8, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

The wealthy get all the breaks!. 'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison, 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

"The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were now Fifty-Two Dollars short of paying the bill. Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists, and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

"Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic."

Posted by: gingerrabbit | December 8, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

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