Exploring the Ongoing Plight of the Long Term Unemployed

By USDR


 While the job market is showing signs of improvement, one segment of the workforce is feeling the sting of a slower-than-expected recovery more so than others: the long-term unemployed.  Thirty percent of workers who were previously employed full time and who have been out of work for 12 months or longer said they haven’t had a single job interview since they became unemployed.  A number of these workers reported losing their homes, struggling to feed their families and having to turn to their parents to supplement income.

The national study from CareerBuilder takes a closer look at the challenges the long-term unemployed are up against and how they are overcoming them.  The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from November 6 to December 2, 2013, and included a sample of more than 300 workers who were previously employed full-time, have been unemployed for 12 months or longer and are currently looking for a job.

“There are many talented people in the U.S. who are having a tough time finding a job – not because of a lack of ability, but because of ongoing challenges in the economy,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.  “While our study explores the struggles they are facing, it also brings to light the resilience of these workers who remain optimistic, look for jobs every day and take measures to learn new skill sets to open the doors to new opportunities.”

Effects of Long-term Unemployment
The loss of a regular income has affected the long-term unemployed in various ways from accelerated credit debt to downsizing to tense relationships:

  • Not having enough money for food – 25 percent
  • Strained relationships with family and friends – 25 percent
  • Maxed out credit cards to pay other bills – 12 percent
  • Losing their house or apartment due to the inability to pay the mortgage or rent – 10 percent
  • Moving back in with their parents – 9 percent (Among long-term unemployed ages 35 to 54, 13 percent moved back in with their parents)
  • Moving to a less expensive location – 4 percent

Current Source of Income
Many long-term unemployed said they are relying on their significant other, personal savings or family members to help out with expenses:

  • Spouse or partner – 39 percent
  • Savings – 31 percent
  • Side jobs – 12 percent
  • Parents – 11 percent
  • Borrowing from family and friends – 9 percent

Biggest Challenges in Finding Employment
Forty-four percent of the long-term unemployed said they look for jobs every day; 43 percent look every week.  While three in ten long-term unemployed said they haven’t had any interviews since they lost their jobs (30 percent), the same number (30 percent) said they have had five or more interviews; 14 percent have had ten or more.  One in ten have turned down a job while unemployed.

Being out of the workforce for an extended period has left nearly half (45 percent) of long-term unemployed concerned that their skills have depreciated.  Of these respondents, more than half (56 percent) said their technology skills depreciated.

When asked to identify some of the major challenges they encounter when looking for a job, the long-term unemployed pointed to:

  • My age or experience is a disadvantage – 66 percent (Among long-term unemployed ages 55 and older, 92 percent feel their age works against them)
  • The longer I am unemployed, employers are becoming less responsive – 63 percent
  • The number of jobs in my profession has dropped significantly during and post-recession – 37 percent
  • I am unable to relocate or commute far – 30 percent
  • I am having difficulty transitioning skills to a new field or industry – 16 percent

Building New Skill Sets
Despite these challenges, the long-term unemployed remain hopeful and provided the following examples of how they are keeping active and learning new skills:

  • Expanded my professional network online and offline – 20 percent
  • Volunteered – 20 percent
  • Signed up with a staffing firm/recruiter – 18 percent
  • Took on part-time work – 14 percent
  • Took a class – 12 percent
  • Went back to school full-time – 5 percent
All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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