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Class divisions hardening in knowledge economy

Chameise Few, 21, is working to complete her high school diploma at Boston Adult Technical Academy. After graduating next year, she hopes to go on to college and become a nurse.
Chameise Few, 21, is working to complete her high school diploma at Boston Adult Technical Academy. After graduating next year, she hopes to go on to college and become a nurse.Credit: Suzanne Kreiter/GLobe Staff

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Massachusetts residents with limited education continue to experience Depression-era levels of unemployment some four years after the last recession. As the economy accelerates toward knowledge-based industries, rewarding the best-educated and wealthiest households, others are getting left further behind, according to a study from Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies.

The result is a widening gap between rich and poor that threatens to become more entrenched, said Andrew Sum, the center’s director. Class — education and income — increasingly determines not only earnings, but also whether some people have jobs at all.

In Massachusetts, 1 in 5 workers, or 20 percent, from households with annual incomes of less than $20,000 are jobless, compared with just 3.3 percent of workers from households earning more than $150,000 a year.

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