Posts Tagged ‘Long-term Unemployment’

Long-term unemployment not going away

February 3, 2012

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The number of Americans who’ve been out of work for more than a year is at the highest level at at least 44 years.  These charts from the Pew Foundation tell the story.

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Click to view.

The longer you’re out of work, the less likely you are to be reemployed in your occupation, or employed at all.   The current recovery in U.S. economic output does not necessarily mean work for the people who’ve been unemployed the longest.

Double click to view.

Click on Five Long-Term Unemployment Questions for the Pew Charitable Trusts report, which is the source of the charts.

Click on US unemployment “progress” for a differing view of the real unemployment rate, which would include the so-called discouraged workers. [Added 2/4/12]

Click on America’s Jobs Deficit, and Why It Is More Important Than the Budget Deficit for the view of Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor.  [Added 2/4/12]

U.S. employment recovering, slowly

February 3, 2012

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced U.S. jobs figures as of January 2012.  The good news is that employment in the United States is slowly recovering.  The bad news is that the economy has a long way to go before jobs get back to pre-recession levels.  The chart above, which compares the current recession with previous recessions tells the story.  Note that the current recession started in December 2007, and President Obama was sworn in Jan. 20, 2009, about 14 months later.

The unemployment rate for January was 8.3 percent, the lowest level since February 2009.  The U.S. economy added 257,000 private sector jobs during the month, while an estimated 250,000 people entered the work force.


“We won’t hire you if you’re out of work”

July 28, 2010

Many companies are only hiring people who already have jobs.  The unemployed need not apply.

I can see how this might make sense for an individual company.  Human resources managers are flooded with applicants for every job, they don’t have time to look at all the applications, so this is a quick and dirty way reduce the pile of applications to a manageable size. And no matter how arbitrary they are, there still will be plenty of qualified applicants left.  Age discrimination is not legal, but this is.

What a waste for the country as a whole!  There are people who want to work, who are well-qualified to work, but we can’t make use of their talents.  And over time this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The longer you are unable to work in your field, the more you fall behind.  You can take courses to keep up, as many are doing, but what good is that if employers don’t recognize them?

This is something to keep in mind the next time you read about some congressman or senator saying unemployment benefits make people lazy, or the retirement age needs to be raised from 67 to 69.

Congress is considering an economic incentives bill for small business.  If they provide incentives for hiring, they ought to make a distinction between hiring someone who is out of work and hiring someone away from another business.


Another reason to end the filibuster

June 25, 2010

Long-term unemployment is the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking long-term unemployment.  Even under the optimistic projections of economic growth, it will be years before the job market gets back to 2007 levels.

And that doesn’t count the so-called “under-employed” – people like friends of mine with computer and engineering degrees who’ve scraped by as substitute school bus drivers or night managers in homeless shelters.

Yet 40 Republican Senators and one Blue Dog Democrat have the power to block the 57 Senators who want to extend unemployment compensation benefits.  Unless the Democrats make an issue of the filibuster, the opposition will have the power to (1) block anything they try to do and (2) blame them for failing to do anything.


Playing political games with the unemployed

March 3, 2010

Senator James Bunning, the Kentucky Republican, has relented and allowed a vote on extension of unemployment benefits before the holdup could do much damage, and maybe this was his intention all along. But with long-term unemployment at record levels, this was a cruel game to play people who are just barely hanging on.

Maybe there was a time during the full-employment years of the 1950s and 1960s when unemployment compensation was regarded as a form of vacation pay, and workers didn’t start seriously looking for work until their benefits are exhausted.  But nobody who knows anybody who’s been looking for work recently would ever take that attitude, or think that people drawing unemployment compensation live high on the hog. (more…)