What hope for the long-term umemployed?

Some stories make you just want to give up on the economy.

The Washington Post has such a story today, reporting that companies don’t even look at resumes for people who have been unemployed for a long time. In the United States right now, that’s 4.7 million people, and those are just the ones still looking for work.

The Post says the unemployment crisis may simply be here to stay.


Now, it’s unclear whether companies are irrationally discriminating against the long-term unemployed or whether they have good reason for screening out these applicants. Privately, many employers worry that someone who’s been out of work for six months “may have outdated skills, or may be a short-timer who is desperate enough to take any work now but will leave when something better comes along.”

Either way, the broader trend is having disastrous effects. As my colleague Ylan Mui reported earlier, this is partly why Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren worries that our cyclical unemployment problems could become structural and long-lasting. The recession threw many people out of work. Those who stayed unemployed for six months or more can’t even get a callback for jobs. Their skills erode further. Eventually they drop out of the labor force. That all weighs down on America’s long-term growth prospects.

  • Mark Gisleson

    This is just the latest strategy for not hiring older workers. No one’s skills erode in six months.

    Free tip for older workers not getting interviews. Make up employment with a relative’s or friend’s small business. With their cooperation you can take credit for all kinds of good things so long as you actually know how to do them.

    Employers are lying to you, return the favor. it’s a win-win situation because the only people threatened by older employees are incompetent managers, and a good business benefits when knowledgeable workers challenge unfit management (and management that fears hiring older workers is clearly incompetent as older workers represent the very best hiring value for all but heavy lifting jobs).

  • Kevin Watterson

    As someone who spent a long time preparing so I could be unemployed for a long time if that’s what it took to find the right job, I’m really thrilled to read this. That is complete sarcasm.

  • Michele

    In six months a worker’s skills will be out of date?!!!

    How so? What industry has such a fast technology or other kind of churn rate? This is such a load of bunk and people should be demanding an explanation of this so-called “logic”.