Addressing the Long Term Unemployment Problem

As of March, there were still more than 3.7 million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer. While the number of long-term unemployed as fallen dramatically from a peak of more than 7.0 million, it remains well above pre-recession levels when an average about 1.2 million Americans were unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. Some have argued that extended emergency unemployment benefits, which maxed out at 99 weeks, have contributed to long-term unemployment by acting as a disincentive to find a job. However, new data suggests that there is little relation between unemployment insurance and job search times. “Some would like to lay the blame on employers for disregarding any applicants who have been out of work for a prolonged period. However, the fact is that there is no single reason for long-term unemployment. The reasons are numerous and complex. They certainly are not universal – each job seeker likely has a unique set of issues that are keeping him or her from being successful, and even those reasons may change over the course of the job search,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “Regardless of the reason, the problem of long-term joblessness must be addressed. If we cannot find a way to get these people back on payrolls, the costs to the economy will be significant, not just in terms of decreased consumer spending, but in increased government spending on social safety net programs, retraining and other programs to assist those left behind following the nation’s economic upheaval.” Which programs aimed at lowering the number of long-term unemployed have the most potential for success? What can job seekers experiencing prolonged joblessness do to increase their chances of success?

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