Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Joblessness That Refuses to Go Away

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Joblessness That Refuses to Go Away

Article excerpt

People are staying unemployed for a long time in some countries, even as the overall jobless rate has begun to decline.

Most Americans who lose their jobs these days are able to find new ones quickly. But those who do not are likely to remain unemployed for a long time.

In some other industrialized countries, long-term unemployment has risen to record levels, even as overall unemployment has begun to decline.

"This is a major source of concern," said Stefano Scarpetta, the director for employment, labor and social affairs at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose members are 34 mostly developed countries. "For people who have been out for a long time, it becomes very difficult to get back into jobs. People lose motivation. They lose employment skills."

In the United States, as can be seen in the accompanying charts, the percentage of the labor force that has been out of work for more than a year -- and is still seeking employment -- is down to 1.9 percent from a peak of 3 percent reached in 2010. But that proportion is still higher than at any time before 2009. (The figures go back to 1948.)

More than a quarter of the unemployed workers in the United States say they have been out of work for at least a year, and that does not count those who have given up looking, since they are no longer counted as unemployed. That is down from nearly a third at the peak of the recession, but far higher than it had ever been before the recession that began in 2007.

The U.S. figures on long-term unemployment, while bad by precrisis levels, are better than those in many other countries. For the euro zone countries, nearly half of those who were unemployed in the second quarter of this year had been out of work for at least a year. In Greece, the figure was 65 percent. Even in prosperous Germany, the figure was 45 percent. …

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