There are about 3.2 million job openings in America that companies are unable to fill, CNBC reports.
Hirers blame a lack of candidates with the right skills, likely due to too much time spent out of work, and a weak housing market that is preventing would-be new hires from selling their home and moving to take new jobs.
Extended unemployment benefits may keep people from going back to work as well, CNBC adds, adding that filling those vacant jobs would add $100 billion to the economy a year and shave more than a full percentage point off unemployment rates.
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The problem lies in many sectors, especially in manufacturing, and about a third of the nation's unemployed —or 4.5 million people — have been out of work for a year or more and will likely stay that way, the Associated Press reports.
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Being out of work for so long makes skills obsolete and can fuel a vicious cycle for those affected.
It's a serious threat," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, according to the Associated Press.
"A growing proportion of the labor force is becoming disenfranchised."
Will this trend last? No one knows for sure, because the scope of such long-term unemployment is unparalleled.
"We're in uncharted territory," says Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago, the AP adds.
"Those people are going to have inferior outcomes in earnings and employment well beyond the current weakness in the labor market."
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