US / Long- term unemployment spans all industries, education levels, age groups, and among blue- and white-collar workers

Today, we are still struggling with the terrible crisis of long-term unemployment left in the Great Recession’s wake, as data suggest many of the remaining unemployed individuals have been unemployed for very long periods. 

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  • While older workers and disadvantaged populations may face particular challenges, long- term unemployment affects a diverse group of workers that, in the words of one paper, spans “all industries, education levels, age groups, and among blue- and white-collar workers.”
    • Today, the long-term unemployed are slightly more educated on average than their recently unemployed peers: 27 percent of the long-term unemployed have postsecondary credentials, compared to 24.5 percent of the short-term unemployed.
    • Although older workers are disproportionately counted among the long-term unemployed, 70 percent of the long-term unemployed are younger than 50.
    • In addition, the long-term unemployed are not concentrated among any particular industry, and are comparable to the short-term unemployed.
    • Though the long-and short-term unemployed have similar credentials overall, research suggests that the long-term unemployed face significant disadvantages in the labor market simply by virtue of their status as being long-term unemployed.
    • The long-term unemployed are about half as likely as the short-term unemployed to get a callback. Interview “callback” rate for otherwise identical resumes falls sharply as the length of unemployment rises, with callbacks 45 percent lower for those unemployed for eight months compared to those unemployed for just one month.
    • To land an interview, the long-term unemployed must apply to 3.5 times as many jobs as the short-term unemployed. Applicants unemployed for seven months need to send an average of 35 resumes to online job postings to receive just one interview,7compared to just 10 resumes per interview for those unemployed for only one month.
    • Employers may be screening out applicants based on duration of unemployment, and missing the more qualified applicants. Long-term unemployed workers with relevant work experience are less likely to be invited for an interview than recently unemployed job applicants with no relevant experience.
    • Long-term unemployment has major negative consequences – both financial and otherwise – on individuals and their families, and these consequences persist over time.
  • Even once reemployed, displaced workers face significant earnings losses up to 20 years after being laid-off, with wages about 15 percent lower for laid-off workers after being reemployed compared to workers who were employed continuously.
  • The children of parents who lose their jobs are also affected, performing worse in school and eventually obtaining lower paying jobs than they otherwise may have.
  • Despite disproportionate barriers to employment for the long-term unemployed, several innovative models are showing promise in helping the long-term unemployed find jobs and re- enter the workforce.

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Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Addressing the Negative Cycle of Long-Term Unemployment, Executive Office of the President,  January 2014 



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