A few factors do make a difference. Men are a bit more likely to become long-term unemployed than women; blacks are more likely than whites; and, most significantly, older workers are more likely than younger ones. That’s consistent with both anecdotal evidence and quantitative research suggesting that older workers have more trouble finding jobs, due partly to implicit (and occasionally explicit) age discrimination.
The factor that has the biggest impact, however, has nothing to do with the workers themselves. It’s the state of the economy — as measured by the unemployment rate — at the time they lose their jobs. Someone who loses a job when the unemployment rate is 8 percent or higher is, on average, three and a half times more likely to end up long-term unemployed than someone who gets laid off when the unemployment rate is under 6 percent. A simple regression model allows us to quantify the relationship: A one-point increase in the unemployment rate raises an individual’s odds of becoming long-term unemployed by 35 percent.
That’s by far the strongest relationship of any characteristic I examined. Even characteristics that might seem likely to play a major role in predicting long-term unemployment, such as single parenthood, don’t have as big an effect.
- US / Long- term unemployment spans all industries, education levels, age groups, and among blue- and white-collar workers
- Long-term unemployment in US since 1950 – A chart
- Unemployed Need Not Apply – 6 responses to use
- US / Percent of unemployed seeking work for longer than six months more than doubled between 2007 and 2013
- US / Who Are the Long-Term Unemployed?
- Long-Term Unemployed in US – Only 11 percent have returned to steady, full-time employment a year later