The Army of Chronic Unemployment

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There aren’t any major shockers in the latest monthly employment report for February out today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most commonly used unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent, and the economy shed 36,000 jobs—up from 22,000 in January. What you should care about in the latest jobs report is the army of unemployed Americans who remain chronically unemployed, meaning they’ve been without work for 27 weeks or more. As you can see in the graph below from the invaluable economics site Calculated Risk, in the past two years the number of chronically unemployed Americans has skyrocketed, shattering the previous record in the early 1980s.

Today, 4 percent of the population has been without work for 27 weeks or more. No story of the ongoing job crisis is complete without the graph below, especially given that the longer people are out of work, the harder it is for them to get back into the workforce. Likewise, no solution to our job nightmare will be sufficient without addressing this army of the long-term unemployed.

UnemployedOver26WeeksFeb2010

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