Long-term unemployed mired down, economists say

June 25, 2013 at 3:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) -- U.S. workers unemployed long-term and those unemployed briefly are experiencing two different labor market recoveries, an economist said.

"Once you are long-term unemployed, nobody calls you back," said economist Rand Ghayad, who said he applied to 600 jobs with mock resumes set up so the only real difference in candidates was the length the applicant was unemployed.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday data support Ghayad's observations. About 25 percent of those defined as short-term unemployed find work each month, compared to about 10 percent of those defined as long-term unemployed, the newspaper said.

On a national level, the economy has added about 175,000 jobs per month since the labor market turned around toward the end of the recession that officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. The trouble, economists say, is that just isn't fast enough.

Take the current rate of new jobs created each month and double that and it would still take three years for the job market to return to pre-recession levels, the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project found.

In effect, the unemployment rate decline from a recession peak of 10.1 percent to the current rate of 7.6 percent reflects the point that millions of workers have given up looking for work. Many of these former workers may never find work again and that slows the recovery further, given the long-term support they will need with shelter, food and healthcare.

By the numbers, the peak of 15 million unemployed has dropped to 12 million. Prior to the recession, the number of unemployed was about 8 million.

Currently, the Journal said, the percentage of the population that is considered part of the workforce -- those working and those looking for work -- is at a low unseen in nearly 30 years.

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