Graphs: Everything We Know About the Long-Term Unemployed

Feb 7 2012

By Derek Thompson
From The Atlantic

Understanding this chart: I'm tracking the growth in unemployment by DURATION with the shortest-term unemployed in orange at the bottom, and the long-term unemployed in blue at the top. I've indexed all numbers to begin at 100 in January 2007. Takeaway 1: People unemployed for 15-26 weeks (red) have doubled. Takeaway 2: People unemployed for 27 weeks and over have quadrupled.

See that graph? Click it. Print it. Tape it to your wall, and maybe give it some lamination. This is what the tragedy of long-term unemployment looks like, with the blue line tracking the quadrupling of those unemployed six months or longer.

The U.S. economy got some much-needed good news this afternoon when the January jobs report showed the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level since the second month of Obama's presidency. Every single indicator -- from hourly pay to unemployment among non-college graduates -- got better.

But here's the really bad news: There are still 5.5 million people out of work for six months or longer. That's enough to fill the state of Minnesota. And even this stat probably understates the crisis. Another 6 million people who should be in the labor force have stopped looking for work entirely. It's safe to assume many of them dropped out of the market for jobs because they were unemployed for so long. Taken together, it's an 11 million-person crisis. Big enough to fill Ohio.

Who are the long-term unemployed? They're mostly the very-long-term unemployed. Of the 5.5 million people out of work for more than 27 weeks, 4 million have been out of work for more than 52 weeks, according to this fantastic report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Here are four things we know about the very-long-term unemployed:

Read on at The Atlantic