The Longer You’re Unemployed, the Harder It Is to Get Un-Unemployed

Today in Depressing News You Can’t Unread, we present to you the findings of three economists who decided to study the relationship between prolonged unemployment and perception of applicants by potential employers.

The relationship, friends, was not good. After sending 12,000 fictitious resumes to 3000 job openings in 100 different labor markets, the researchers discovered that employers were much less likely to call back when the applicant had been unemployed for any length of time. The problem appears to be the employer’s perception of the applicant’s productivity, not any concern over declining skills.

The scariest part of all this is how quickly this perception set in — as in, right away. The economists created resumes for workers that included unemployment terms ranging from one to 36 months. The callback rates declined immediately and sharply, especially during the first eight months of unemployment, and then stabilized. Which seems like it could be good news, except that as Hamilton Nolan writes over at Gawker points out, although it only gets worse for the first eight months:

“…Then it just stays worse. And the effect is mitigated during times of higher unemployment, because employers presumably understand that it’s harder to find work. Of course, during times of higher unemployment, there are no jobs to apply for anyhow. So it would be a moot point.”

So, everything is terrible and we’re quitting the earth. Who wants to come help us colonize Mars?

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(Photo Credit: Kheel Center, Cornell University/Flickr)