The most shocking number in the report was 3.8 million. That’s the number of Americans who have been out of work for more than six months, and are classified as long-term unemployed. With payrolls rising and the work force expanding a bit, the tally of people who have been unemployed for less than six months—the short-term jobless—stayed at about 10.3 million last month. But the number of long-term jobless rose by 203,000.
That’s alarming for a number of reasons. First, it confirms what we’ve known for a while: there is a core group of jobless Americans, many of them older than the typical worker, who were laid off during the Great Recession and its aftermath and who aren’t sharing in the recovery to the same extent as others. In normal times, the proportion of the unemployed who have been out of work for more than six months is about one-fifth. But it now stands at more than one in three—thirty-seven per cent, to be precise. Even during a recession, or a post-recession period, this isn’t normal. During the slump of 1983, for example, which was a pretty deep one, the proportion of the jobless who had been out of work for more than six months peaked at about twenty-five per cent.
That’s me. My husband was laid off last July. His extended benefits ran out the first week of January 2014. That’s us.