It Gets Worse, Not Better, for the Long-Term Unemployed

Research shows the unemployed fall into a deeper and deeper hole the longer they are jobless and their plight isn't expected to end anytime soon.


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Being unemployed for a significant period of time can be devastating. On average, the long-term unemployed are more unhealthy, more likely to commit suicide, have strained family relations, and their children have a poorer financial outlook than their peers, Annie Lowrey writes in the New York Times.

Currently, there are about 4 million Americans considered long-term unemployed and with each passing month, their chances of finding work continues to drop. A recently jobless worker has about a 20 to 30 percent chance of finding a new job. But after being unemployed for six months, those odds drop to 10 percent, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

This is one reason why 36 percent of Americans have given up looking for work.

Employed workers aren't immune to the struggles of long-term unemployed. Lowrey says the lost production, increased social spending, decreased tax revenue, and slower growth of the long-term unemployed is hurting the country as a whole.

Many economists and policy makers believe the unemployment problem is cyclical, and when the economy improves the jobless rate will decrease.

But others are afraid the problem is more serious and structural. Studies show employers are discriminating against workers unemployed for long periods of time and "the strain of unemployment, plus the erosion of skills and loss of contacts that naturally occur" is keeping workers jobless, Lowrey writes.

It's a dark picture, but it's important for the long-term unemployed to stay resolute and continue their job hunt. The only way you stay unemployed forever is if you give up.


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