Overall unemployment has ticked down slightly from the peaks of the recession, but long-term unemployment remains historically high, threatening the long-term economic security of workers and the country as a whole. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research sheds light on the demographics of the millions of workers struggling with unemployment and under-employment.
“Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market” breaks out workers considered long-term unemployed by the official BLS standard according to race and gender, education, and age. The authors also expand the conventional concept of long-term unemployment and capture further dimensions of long-term hardship including discouraged workers, workers marginally attached to the workforce, and workers who are part-time for economic reasons.
The report shows that under the standard measure of long-term unemployment, half of all unemployed black men have been jobless for more six months or longer, followed closely by roughly 49 percent of unemployed Asian men, black women and Asian women. However, the alternative measure shows that black men are much more likely than other workers to experience long-term hardship. About 9 percent of all black men in the labor force, compared to 7 percent of black women, 5 percent of Latino women and 4 percent of Latino men had been unemployed for six months or longer in 2011.
“The recovery, which officially started in the summer of 2009, has provided almost no relief to those experiencing long-term hardship in the labor market,” said John Schmitt, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a co-author of the report.
Large numbers of workers are not accounted for under the traditional measure of long-term employment. As a result, millions of workers fall outside of official tallies and face significant and long-lasting loss of earnings, deterioration of skills, poverty and even higher rates of divorces and reduced physical and mental health. The report shows that this is a burden borne disproportionately by blacks and Latinos, less educated workers and younger workers, all of whom are more likely to face extended periods of long-term hardship.