Nearly a third of the 14 million Americans who are officially unemployed have been out of work for more than a year, enough to fill the state of Louisiana. That share of total unemployment has grown by 50 percent since December 2009. These aren't merely the long-term unemployed, a term the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as being out of work for more than six months. These are the long-long-term unemployed. The 52-weekers.
What do we know about them? The Pew fiscal analysis of the long-term unemployed gives us a picture. They tend to be older. Forty-five percent of the unemployed people over the age of 55 have been out of work for more than a year. They also tend to be less educated. More than a third of those unemployed without a college degree have been out of work for more than a year. Where they work is harder to say. The industries with the highest shares of long-term unemployment are mining and financial activities, which are also among the highest-paid. But transportation and manufacturing also suffer high long-term unemployment rates, despite representing more middle- and low-wage jobs.
Here we go with the pictures:
How Old Are They?
This is perhaps the most dramatic story about the long-term unemployed. While barely 20 percent of the youngish unemployed haven't worked in a year, the rate is twice as high for 55+ workers, even though their proximity to retirement make them needy for work. Some of this discrepancy is no doubt due to logistics, as some younger workers haven't been in the labor force long enough to be long-term unemployed. But the broader trend is striking: At every age group, long-term unemployment makes up a larger portion of total joblessness. We talk about generational differences in unemployment. This is a huge one. Younger workers are less likely to have a job. Older workers are less likely to find another job easily.