Fallout: The Financial Crisis

A grim outlook for the unemployed

Steve Henn Apr 3, 2009
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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

A grim outlook for the unemployed

Steve Henn Apr 3, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers its monthly unemployment figures every which way. By age and sex. Education level and ethnicity. By reason for and duration of unemployment. But no matter how you chop ’em up, this morning’s numbers were grim.

In all, more than five million jobs have evaporated from the U.S. economy since the recession started 16 months ago. The unemployment rate last month rose to 8.5 percent. And Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports that when you look a little deeper, the details get even worse.


Steve Henn: More than 660,000 Americans lost their jobs last month. And the ranks of the long-term unemployed are rising.

Andrew Stettner: We have never had long-term unemployment this high in the middle of a recession and it is approaching an all time record.

Andrew Stettner is an analyst at National Employment Law Project. He says nearly one in four unemployed workers has been looking for a job for more than six months.

Stettner: You already have a lot of long term unemployment at the same time new people are being laid off.

Stettner says for every new job out there, there are four unemployed workers who want it.

Stettner: There is just so little hiring going on it feels like a game of musical chairs you can’t win.

Merry Domke feels lucky. Although she one of millions who are under-employed.

Merry Domke: It’s a tough economy, so I’m just a happy that I am one of the few people who has their job and hopefully I will keep my job.

Domke is an aide at a nursing home in Scandia, Minn. If she works full time she gets health insurance. Over the summer she was close, averaging 36 hours a week.

Merry Domke: Now I’m down to about 28 to 32 hours a week.

That means less money and no health insurance. Stettner says Domnke’s experience is common.

Stettner: There’s nearly nine million workers who don’t have full time hours but really want them, and that’s crushing.

When you add it all up — unemployed, underemployed, and folks who have given up and stopped looking — nearly 17 percent of Americans don’t have the jobs they need.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn, for Marketplace.

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