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COVID & Unemployment

How will employers perceive long-term unemployment in this moment?

Erika Beras Aug 7, 2020
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A "now hiring" sign at a store in Arlington, Virginia. Employers may take the pandemic lockdown into consideration when seeing gaps in applicants' resumes. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

How will employers perceive long-term unemployment in this moment?

Erika Beras Aug 7, 2020
Heard on:
A "now hiring" sign at a store in Arlington, Virginia. Employers may take the pandemic lockdown into consideration when seeing gaps in applicants' resumes. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The United States added 1.8 million jobs in July, a pullback from the gains of May and June and evidence that the resurgent coronavirus is stalling hiring and slowing an economic rebound. With confirmed viral cases still elevated in much of the nation and businesses under continued pressure, many employers appear reluctant or unable to hire.

Even counting the hiring of the past three months, the economy has now recovered only about 42% of the 22 million jobs it lost to the pandemic-induced recession, according to the Labor Department’s jobs report released Friday.

For some people, unemployment is starting to stretch out over many months because of the pandemic. So how does long-term unemployment affect people’s ability to eventually return to the workplace?

People who are out of work for two, three, maybe even four months — employers get that. But longer than that, said economist and dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business Matthew Slaughter, “your skills depreciate a bit, the longer that you’re not in a job.”

And traditionally, employers have a lot of questions for prospective employees if there’s a big gap in their work history. But Slaughter said workers can build new skills to boost their earning potential.

“What becomes more important is, what’s the story that you can tell when — fingers crossed — you do have those interviews?” he said.

Of course that story, right now, involves the pandemic, said San Francisco Bay Area career coach Dorianne St. Fleur.

“It won’t be looked at as negatively now as potentially it has been in the past,” she said.

But in this moment, many of her clients are concerned about having to take a pay cut if they do get work because the job market is so competitive.

With reporting from The Associated Press

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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