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Long-term unemployment affects nearly 30% of jobless Americans

A Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative report on the first quarter finds that of the 13.3 million unemployed workers in the country, 3.9 million had been out of work for at least a year.

May 03, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

Nearly 30% of jobless Americans have been out of work for at least a year, according to the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative report on the first quarter.

The report found that of the 13.3 million unemployed workers in the country, 3.9 million had been jobless for all or most of 2011. That's more people than live in Oregon.

That 29.5% long-term unemployment rate is slightly off the peak reached in the third quarter of last year, when 31.8% of jobless Americans were out of work for a year. But the current rate is still more than triple the 9.5% from the beginning of the recession.

"The longer workers remain unemployed, the more likely they may lose skills and professional contacts, making workforce reentry even more challenging," researchers wrote in the Pew report. "Skill erosion may lead to lower future income for individuals and, for the economy as a whole, lower productivity and lost output."

Older workers were more affected than most, with nearly 44% of former employees older than 55 out of work for longer than a year. Compare that to 21.4% of workers between 20 and 24 in the same boat.

In international jobless news, unemployment in the 17 countries that make up the Eurozone was at a record high of 10.9% in March. The jobless rate was up from 10.8% in February and also from the year-earlier rate of 9.9% according to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office. Unemployment, now at the highest level since the euro debuted in 1999, has been rising for nearly a year in the region.

With major elections looming in France and Greece this weekend, the dour news may influence voters already burdened by severe austerity measures implemented in the wake of the European debt crisis.

The Eurozone now has more than 17 million people without jobs.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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