Even if the job market does turn, we’ve still got problems

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For instance, we’re dealing with an uncharacteristically high percentage of people who have been out of work for six months or more—the so-called long-term unemployed—which says something about how difficult it is for people to find new jobs. The National Employment Law Project and the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley have put out a report (PDF), which includes this niftiness:


To crib the explanation:

There is a steep increase in the unemployment rate thus far into this recession. At the same time, the long-term unemployment share is higher while the economy is still in recession than it has been during any recent recession. In March 2009, 24.2% of the jobless have been out of work for more than six months—surpassing the previous peak of 19.8% in November 1982.

The timing of past peaks in unemployment is noteworthy. As shown, the unemployment rate peaked just at the end of the two early 1980s recessions, and the share of LTU peaked shortly thereafter. This was not the case following the last two downturns, as the time it took for unemployment and LTU shares to peak was longer following the early-1990s recession and even longer following the 2001 contraction. If this trend holds for the present downturn, it may be a long time before unemployment and LTU shares peak, and they are likely to surpass the peaks that followed the 1981-82 recession. It is highly likely we will see long-term unemployment shares approaching or exceeding 30% by 2010.