Long-Term Unemployment Is Elevated Across All Education, Age, Occupation, Industry, Gender, And Racial And Ethnic Groups

Today’s Economic Snapshot shows that long-term unemployment is elevated for workers at every education level. The table below provides additional breakdowns of long-term unemployment by age, gender, race/ethnicity, occupation, and industry. For each category, the table shows the long-term unemployment rate in 2007, the long-term unemployment rate in 2013, and ratio of the two. It demonstrates that while there is considerable variation in long-term unemployment rates across groups—which is always true, in good times and bad—the long-term unemployment rate is substantially higher now than it was before the recession started for all groups. The long-term unemployment rate is between 2.9 and 4.3 times as high now as it was six years ago for all age, education, occupation, industry, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. Today’s long-term unemployment crisis is not at all confined to unlucky or inflexible workers who happen to be looking for work in specific occupations or industries where jobs aren’t available. Long-term unemployment is elevated in every group, in every occupation, in every industry, at all levels of education.

Elevated long-term unemployment for all groups, like we see today, means that today’s long-term unemployment crisis is not due to something wrong with these workers, it is due to the fact that businesses across the board simply haven’t needed to significantly increase hiring because they haven’t seen demand for their goods and services pick up enough to warrant it.

Nevertheless, Congress allowed federal unemployment insurance to expire at the end of 2013, and over two million workers have lost their unemployment benefits since then. In the first sign of progress in months, yesterday the Senate reinstated a temporary five-month extension of federal unemployment insurance. It will, however, face an uphill battle in the House. In considering this measure, the House should not ignore the fact that our long-term unemployment crisis is not the fault of individual unemployed workers failing to exert enough effort or flexibility in their job search. It is instead due to more than six years of weak hiring on the part of businesses, who simply don’t need more workers because they don’t have enough demand for their products.

Table 1

Long-term unemployment rates of various groups, 2007 and 2013

2007 2013 Ratio
 All 0.8% 2.8%  3.4
Less than high school 1.6% 5.1%  3.1
High school 1.0% 3.6%  3.6
Some college 0.7% 2.7%  3.8
College 0.5% 1.7%  3.7
Advanced degree 0.4% 1.3%  3.3
16-24 1.3% 3.9%  3.1
25-34 0.8% 2.8%  3.5
35-44 0.7% 2.5%  3.6
45-54 0.8% 2.5%  3.3
55-64 0.7% 2.6%  3.6
Male 0.9% 2.9%  3.4
Female 0.8% 2.6%  3.5
White 0.6% 2.2%  3.5
Black 2.0% 5.7%  2.9
Hispanic 0.8% 3.1%  3.9
Management, business and financial occupations 0.4% 1.5%  4.1
Professional and related occupations 0.4% 1.3%  3.3
Service occupations 1.0% 3.2%  3.2
Sales and related occupations 0.8% 2.8%  3.4
Office, administrative support occupations 0.7% 3.0%  4.3
Construction and extraction occupations 1.1% 4.2%  3.9
Installation, maintenance and repair occs 0.6% 2.2%  3.7
Production occupations 1.1% 3.6%  3.2
Transportation, material moving occupations 1.2% 3.4%  2.9
Mining 0.3% 1.3%  3.9
Construction 1.0% 3.7%  3.7
Manufacturing 0.9% 2.8%  3.1
Wholesale and retail trade 0.8% 2.9%  3.6
Transportation and utilities 0.8% 2.4%  3.1
Information 0.8% 2.6%  3.1
Financial activities 0.5% 1.9%  3.8
Professional and business services 0.9% 3.1%  3.6
Educational and health services 0.4% 1.7%  4.0
Leisure and hospitality 1.1% 3.2%  2.9
Other services 0.6% 2.3%  3.6
Public administration 0.4% 1.4%  3.4

Note: The long-term unemployment rate is the share of the labor force that has been unemployed for more than six months.

Source: Author's analysis of the basic monthly Current Population Survey microdata

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  • sharonsj

    Unfortunately, Congress doesn’t give a crap. They’re too worried about women’s wombs and not worried about the millions with no money for health care (or much else, for that matter).

  • Chris Herz

    Don’t worry. We will soon have less unemployment — as soon as wages can be brought down fully to the Chinese scale.

  • rdzk

    There is not production enough in this country for the population. You cannot fit 22 people into one job slot. The US is actively reducing its population with the Republican death panels. NOT requiring corporations to return production to the US and NOT paying taxes are a KILLER!