CNNMoney: 3 Million Workers Are Beyond Discouraged

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 11:05 AM

By Michael Kling

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The Labor Department counts workers who haven't sought a job in the last four weeks as "discouraged." Yet 3 million workers are beyond discouraged and want a job, but haven't searched for one in at least a year.

However, they're not counted as unemployed. They've simply fallen off government employment record counts.

"The way we're measuring the long-term unemployed has a lot of holes in it," Stephen Bronars, an economist at Welch Consulting, told CNNMoney. "A person can be discouraged for a while, but then gets bumped over into this other category."

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

The number of those long-term unemployed workers has grown from about 2.5 million before the recession to over 3.3 million, according to CNNMoney.

Exactly who these people are, why they cannot find work and why they are not looking is hard to say, experts told CNNMoney.

They might like to work if they could, but don't think they can find a job. They might have responsibilities other than work and other ways of supporting themselves. Some may be parents who took time off from work to raise children and are waiting for the economy to improve. Others may be students who are continuing their studies rather than facing a tough job market.

Age might be another factor. The fastest growing group of the "super discouraged workers" is those older than 55, who may have more difficulty being hired again.

The unemployment rate as well as the official number of discouraged workers has fallen, but the persistently high number of long-term unemployed contradicts signs of an improving job market.

"We know we have this huge pool of missing workers," Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told CNNMoney. "And we are not yet in a labor market that draws people in."

Congress extended unemployment insurance, at the cost of $30 billion, for the long-term unemployed as part of its budget agreement that averted the fiscal cliff.

Nonfarm payrolls grew 155,000 in December, the Labor Department reported, while the jobless rate held steady at 7.8 percent.

The labor force participation rate, which measures workers and those looking for jobs, was steady at 63.6 percent, near a 30-year low. The underemployment rate, which includes those who have looked for work in the past 12 months and those who work part-time even though they would like full-time jobs, was 14.4 percent.

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

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