The Myths of Long-Term Unemployment

road leading to a tunnel with trees around itThere are certain criteria that must be met in order for unemployment to be considered “long-term” unemployment. We have a post on the ins and outs of long-term unemployment here, but the bottom line is that Americans who have been looking for work for 28 weeks or more are generally deemed a long-term unemployed person.

White House staffer Tanya Somander explains that “research has shown that the long-term unemployed are in many ways quite similar to those who have been unemployed for shorter durations, except for the fact that their initial bad luck has become a terrible extended hardship, in some cases because prospective employers are hesitant to give them another chance.”

In this manner, long-term unemployment can become cyclical and pervasive. Because of the skills gap in the manufacturing industry, many long-term unemployed persons have had great luck finding a career with manufacturers looking for hard workers and to fill a position quickly.

However, long-term unemployment is still very much misunderstood by the general population, and by employers. Here are some of the commonly circulated myths about long-term unemployment that must be dispelled in order to help lower unemployment rates, and to help manufacturers find skilled laborers to join their teams.

  1. Long-term unemployed people are simply too lazy and incapable of finding jobs. When more than 12 long-term unemployed people traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Secretary Thomas Perez and share their stories, they expressed dismay that this is a commonly circulated myth about unemployment: “That was very painful for me, I don’t consider myself a slacker.” “We are still in good shape. Our minds are alert. We have skills. We have experience. We have the heart.” Rather, these professionals have not received job offers for reasons like not meeting specific qualifications for some jobs but being overqualified for others– “falling between the cracks” of what employers are searching for.
  2. Long-term unemployed people aren’t trying hard enough. In actuality, the long-term unemployed interviewed by Perez were doing whatever they could to get back into the workforce, whether that meant brief consulting jobs, contract assignments, more education, or part-time positions. Some even moved into new careers or relocated to other regions of the country. Both geography and demand in a specific location play a major role in any job search, so long-term unemployed people may find unexpected success by heading to a region where the need for manufacturing laborers is high.
  3. Long-term unemployed people are happy to live on their unemployment insurance benefits without jobs. The workers explained that benefits really only replace one-third of their prior income or less. As a former manager with a defense contractor and Iraq veteran put it, “I’ve gone through all my savings. I’m at the bottom of the barrel.”

To find out more about how long-term unemployed people can begin working towards a new career and fresh breath of air in the manufacturing industry, you can read here.

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photo credit: Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike via photopin (license)