Long-term unemployment

Date posted: July 20, 2011

Economists are becoming increasingly worried about what they call long-term unemployment. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden defines the term and explains what worries it creates.

“Well , we define long term unemployment as someone who is unemployed for more than 26 weeks. And if we use that definition, we currently see that long-term unemployment in the country is at its highest level in 50 years.  Forty percent of people who are now unemployed are in that category of being unemployed for a long term.

“Now why should we worry about this? Well, several studies show that the longer that a person is unemployed, the harder it is for that person to get a job.  So, one reason we worry about long-term unemployment is whether those folks become unemployable after a certain period of time.

“It may also indicate something about skill preparation — that is to say, people who have been unemployed for a long period of time may be in that situation because they don’t have the right skills for the jobs that are available. So, this could come back to a training and educational issue.

“But clearly economists are not only now worried about unemployment, but we’re increasingly worried about folks who’ve been unemployed for this long period of time.”

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