On the surface, it’s a real mystery. The nation’s unemployment rate has been below five percent for months, but as of April, 2017, 1.6 million people have been out of work for six months or longer; almost a million of them have been without jobs for a year. Economists call it “long-term unemployment”; they calculate 22.6% of the jobless are in this category. Ofer Sharone, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, says “It’s uncharted territory to have this level of long-term unemployment this far out of recession. Something new is going on, making it harder for people who have been out of the market for a long time.”
It’s hard to know for sure why this is happening, but there are some theories.
Hiring Discrimination — many times, job seekers with long gaps in their careers are assumed to have outdated skills or are unemployable for some reason.
But whatever the reason, it’s pretty clear that the longer you are out of work, the harder it is to reenter the workforce. One study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston says the chances of finding a job drop dramatically after six months of unemployment. And the older you are, the more difficult it becomes. Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of the jobs development group The WorkPlace, says “If you’re 50 or older, you face an almost impenetrable wall of discrimination. Companies have a very narrow view of what they want. When you walk into an interview with a lot of gray hair, it’s usually over very quickly.”
If the Trump Administration really knows how to stimulate growth and bring back high-paying jobs, this would be a good place to start.