Long-term joblessness is on the rise

People wait in line at a job fair in New York City.

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KAI RYSSDAL: Eleven thousand fewer employment opportunities in this economy right now is not a good thing, especially to the people whose jobs they were. But when you consider that even the most optimistic estimates were for more than 10 times that many, well, context matters.

The unemployment rate was down two ticks to 10 percent even. People who still have their jobs are working more hours. They're making more money. More temps are being hired. So you can safely say that, overall, today's report on November unemployment was positive. Right about here, though, is where is I'm going to hit you with the obligatory "however."

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman takes it from there.


Mitchell Hartman: There was at least one dark spot in today's jobs report: long-term unemployment. This refers to those who have been looking for a job for more than six months. Another quarter-million people joined that group in November, bringing the total to nearly 40 percent of the unemployed.

Mike Burnside: It's very frustrating. I come from a background where you work.

But Mike Burnside hasn't worked for nearly seven months now. He got laid off from a well-paying I.T. job at a Southern California bank that failed. He's been looking ever since.

Burnside: Nibbles have been near-and-dear to none. It's an employer's market right now, and so they can pick and choose.

Bernard Baumohl is chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group.

Bernard Baumohl: There are going to be lots of jobs that will never come back, specifically those in the auto industry, in financial services. A lot of job seekers should be under no illusions. It's going to be a different job environment entirely.

That's especially worrisome for young workers, say economist James Galbraith at the University of Texas. He says many recent high school and college grads can't even land a first job.

James Galbraith: And as their unemployment continues and they get this enormous gap in their resume early on, that hurts their career prospects, their income prospects, over an entire lifetime.

Even as hiring picks up, economists predict the number of long-term term unemployed will remain high well into next year.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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