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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Who’s hurt by long-term unemployment

Sarah Gardner May 7, 2009
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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Who’s hurt by long-term unemployment

Sarah Gardner May 7, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: April unemployment numbers are due out tomorrow. Economists are predicting they’ll show that the pace of layoffs is slowing. But the jobless rate is still on track to hit a 25-year high. And as Marketplace’s Sarah Gardner reports, there’s new evidence that long-term unemployment in this recession is also breaking some records.


Sarah Gardner: If you’ve been without a job for more than six months, know this: you’ve got plenty of company. A new report out today shows long-term unemployment is higher now than during the 1981 recession.

ANDREW STETTNER: We’re nearly at one out of four laid-off workers has already been out of work for six months.

That’s Andrew Stettner at the National Employment Law Project. He and his research partners at UC-Berkeley predict the share of long-term unemployed will hit 30 percent by next year. A quarter of that group is African American. And here are some trends among the long-term jobless: They increasingly include college graduates. Women are just as likely as men to be out of work for a long time. And workers over 45 account for well over a third of the long-term unemployed.

STETTNER: Older workers are increasingly being laid off, and they don’t have the option of retirement. I think that’s one thing that’s really changed. They don’t have savings or the equity in their houses to retire early.

Louis Avila of Sacramento isn’t quite 45, but he’s been looking for work since last March. He was a purchasing agent for a furniture maker that moved to Viet Nam. He’s trying to remain positive.

LOUIS AVILA: You can’t wait for the jobs to come across your computer or your e-mail. You have to look and call friends and network and maybe join some social-networking group.

But Avila says he’s only had a few interviews in the last 14 months. He says forget about getting call backs. You find out online if you’re rejected. Avila’s decided that if nothing comes through soon, he’ll have to go back to school.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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