The Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative has released an addendum to its 2010 report A Year or More: The High Cost of Long-Term Unemployment, and the update isn’t pretty. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, Pew’s addendum finds that 29.5 percent of unemployed Americans in the first quarter of 2012 have been jobless for a year or more. That means 3.9 million working-age Americans haven’t been able to find a job in 12-plus months.
In 2008, during the first quarter of the Great Recession, 9.5 percent of the unemployed had been jobless for at least a year. While this percentage of the long-term unemployed peaked at 31.8 percent in the third quarter of 2011, it’s still very high and remains more than three times greater than at this point four years ago. Note also that BLS defines long-term unemployment as someone who has been unemployed for more than half a year (27 weeks or more). By this measure, 41.3 percent of the jobless still qualify as long-term unemployed.
Some other findings from the Pew analysis:
- Age: Older workers are less likely to lose their jobs, but much more likely to be jobless for a year or more once they do (see Figure 3 in the addendum).
- Education: Workers with higher levels of education are less likely to lose their jobs, but they’re no better off once they do as long-term joblessness is fairly even across all education levels (see Figure 5).
- Industry: No industry or occupation has gone unscathed due to long-term unemployment (see Table 3).
Continued high levels of long-term unemployment have a damaging impact on the economic situations of both individuals and families, and more broadly, on the economy as a whole. As EPI has documented before, the outcome of such long-term joblessness is “scarring,” which carries severe and long-lasting consequences for our economy and society.