The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

March 21, 2014

Few U.S. long-term unemployed find jobs

WASHINGTON — A new study documents the bleak plight of Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months: Just 11 percent of them, on average, will ever regain steady full-time work.

The findings by three Princeton University economists show the extent to which the long-term unemployed have been shunted to the sidelines of the U.S. economy since the Great Recession. The long-term jobless number is 3.8 million, or 37 percent of all unemployed Americans.

“The long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely” to stop looking for a job than to find one, according to the paper co-written by Alan Krueger, formerly President Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser. “And when they exit the labor force, the long-term unemployed tend to say they no longer want a job.”

During any given month from 2008 to 2012, barely more than one in 10 of the long-term unemployed had found full-time work. Their troubles were similar in states with high as well as low unemployment rates.

The analysis shows that a better predictor of hiring comes from the short-term unemployed, who are far more likely to be rehired.

Across the country, levels of short-term unemployment have essentially returned to pre-recession averages, even though the overall national unemployment rate remains historically high at 6.7 percent. The paper says that based on the number of short-term unemployed, further job gains could lead to “rising inflation and stronger real wage growth.”

That’s because the relative exclusion of the long-term unemployed means that employers must choose from among a limited supply of workers. That trend could push up prices.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday cited flat wages and low inflation running below the Fed’s 2 percent target as evidence that the Fed should continue to support the recovery by keeping interest rates extremely low.

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