News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Labor Report Shows That Education Pays

High school dropouts are more than four times as likely as college graduates to be looking for work, according to new statistics from the Department of Labor.

In analyzing jobless rates according to educational background for the first time, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 8.4 percent of dropouts were looking for work in January. That compares with an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent for those whose academic training ended with a high school diploma and just 2 percent for college graduates.

The average unemployment rate for the month was 4.7 percent, according to data the Labor Department released Feb. 6.

The monthly unemployment figures will continue to cite the jobless rate for each educational level, according to Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. "These findings reinforce the message that education pays," she said in a statement accompanying the monthly report's release.

Surgeon General Aims To Reduce Teen Pregnancy

Overriding objections by conservatives, the Senate confirmed Dr. David Satcher as surgeon general last week by a 63-35 vote.

The 56-year-old former head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta plans to use his post to help reduce the teenage-pregnancy rate and discourage teen sex.

The office, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has been vacant for more than three years since Dr. Joycelyn Elders resigned amid controversy over remarks she made on teaching masturbation.

Much of the debate on Dr. Satcher's long-awaited confirmation centered on his views on abortion. Dr. Satcher has opposed a proposed ban on the late-term procedure that is widely known as partial-birth abortion. His supporters emphasized the obstacles Dr. Satcher overcame in his impoverished childhood in rural Alabama. Dr. Satcher, who has also served as the president of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, plans to begin his new job after wrapping up his work at the CDC.

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