Long-term joblessness

September 2, 2012
   
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The share of the Ohio unemployed that has been unemployed for more than half a year rose to an all-time high of 44.2 percent in 2011, up from 42.4 percent in 2010. The peak prior to that was in 1984 at 30.2 percent. This is deeply troubling because the longer people are out of work, the harder it is to get rehired, both because of discrimination by employers and because of actual skill erosion.

Nearly one in five Ohio workers is underemployed, meaning either they are unemployed (have no job and are looking); are working part-time but want to be full-time; or are marginally attached, which includes two types of workers (discouraged workers who have left the labor force because they don’t think they’ll find a job, and workers who want to work but lack child care or transportation that would enable them to). Underemployment fell in each of the last two years but remains higher than at any other point between 1994, when this measurement was started, and 2009.

A look back at the 2001 labor market gives a sense of what a healthier labor market looks like, at least in terms of demand for workers. At that time, 93.8 percent of the labor market was more fully employed – working if they wanted to, and working full-time if that was the kind of employment that worked best for them. About 3.8 percent of workers were unemployed for under six months and less than half a percent of workers had been out of work for more than six month. And about 2 percent of workers wanted full-time work but could find only part time. In contrast, last year 3.8 percent of workers had been out of work for more than half a year, 4.9 percent out of work for less than half a year and another 4.9 percent stuck in part-time jobs.

Although unemployment, long-term unemployment, and part-timers who want full time work are all at high levels compared to the last decade, these indicators improved in 2011 when compared to the previous two years.

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