29% of America’s Jobless Have Been Without Work for Over a Year

Some economists believe the numbers are unrepresented.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 2.7 million of the 9.2 million jobless Americans in April have been unemployed for at least a year. The Bureau released its report for April last week. The statistics show that almost 29 percent of America’s jobless workers have been without work for 52 weeks or more. 

Most experts believe the numbers of unemployed workers are probably underrepresented in the count. Workers who left work because of the risks associated with the pandemic or those who had to stay home to care for children at home as schools shuttered their doors are not included in the count.

In April, unemployment jumped to 6.1 percent, while 266,000 jobs were added to the economy. Long-term unemployment has been pervasive throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic and has steadily risen. Economists also say that long-term unemployed workers are likely overrepresented in the hospitality and leisure industries, which have been hard-hit during the pandemic.

There are believed to be nearly 3 million less jobs in the hospitality sector compared to pre-pandemic times. In April, hospitality hiring grew by more than 300,000 positions last month, mostly in restaurants, hotels, and bars.

Most economists consider long-term employment to be unemployment that lasts at least six months. During April, 4.2 million unemployed people were considered to be long-term unemployed, or 43 percent of jobless Americans. The figure is reminiscent of a record peak experienced after the Great Recession, which had 45.5 percent unemployed workers during April 2010.

Statistics show that the longer a worker is unemployed, the harder it is to find new work, and even if they do, they’re more likely to lose a job. It also impacts their earning potential.

Many families have received aid from the government through the American Rescue Plan, which extended and raised unemployment benefits through Labor Day. Some states, however, are cutting off unemployment benefits ahead of schedule, including South Carolina and Montana.

Economists don’t expect long-term unemployment to continue, thanks to vaccination efforts and businesses reopening their doors. But, the weak April job report was a surprise for many, including Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Walsh acknowledged, “Labor force participation is at its highest point since last August, and the number of people expressing hesitancy about returning to work due to the coronavirus is at its lowest point in the pandemic. However, the numbers also show we have a steep climb ahead of us.”


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