Time spent out of a job hits a new high

June 3, 2011

This statistic from today’s dismal jobs report jumped out at us. The Labor Department says the average unemployed person in the United States is spending 39.7 weeks out of a job.

According to the Economix blog in New York Times, that’s the longest since the department began keeping the statistic in 1948.

To be sure, the department changed the way it calculates the statistic in January, but even under its old method, May was still the longest time ever.

The Times says this raises concerns for a couple of reasons:

“The longer a person is unemployed, the less employable he or she becomes because of factors like stigma and skill deterioration. That means that the longer it takes to get Americans back to work, the further behind they’ll fall.”

And,

“The social safety net for these workers is also fraying. Many of the long-term unemployed — who now constitute about 45 percent of all unemployed workers — have already had their jobless benefits run out.”

In another factor that’s of great interest to our region, the Times said, many unemployed people who have retrained for new careers have so far racked up student loan debts but not jobs.

President Obama, who was in Toledo today, recently discussed his concerns about unemployment with Stephen Clark of WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

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