Researchers at the Federal Reserve have found that people who are unemployed more than six months are heavily discriminated against. They sent fake resumes to hundreds of employers in response to job postings. Applicants who had only recently lost a job but had no relevant experience were far more likely to be called than those with many years of experience who had been out of work a long time.
All the resumes were of 2005 college graduates with identical skills, differing only in their length of unemployment and experience in the industry. The long-term unemployed received few responses. In many cases the employers’ ATS eliminated applications automatically. Six months of joblessness was enough to erase the value of industry experience. Employers preferred candidates with less joblessness over those who had worked in their industry.
What Is the “Long-Term”?
When I first heard the term “long-term unemployed,” I thought it referred to people who had not worked in years. But the definition is six months or more. I can see that someone who has been out of work for years is likely to have skills that have seriously deteriorated or may have difficulty getting back into a routine of meeting deadlines, but six months? Really? What is the basis for deciding when an unemployed person is not as qualified as an employed one?
Even in a fast-changing field like IT it would be hard to make the case that skills get outdated in six months. There’s no evidence that discrimination against the unemployed is based on anything other than prejudice and ignorance. It’s not logical to assume that a job seeker with extensive experience using the general skills needed in a prospective job is less qualified than untested applicants regardless whether the experience was gained in a job that ended a week ago or a year ago.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at
US unemployment seems stuck at an unusually high level of 8%, prompting some to suggest a widespread skills mismatch. This column argues that a skills mismatch is not supported by the evidence. Rather, out of the possible explanations, it seems that any shift in the ratio between unemployment and vacancies is driven by either lower … Continue reading »