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How to Tackle Long Term Unemployment- A Collective Approach to Bounce Back

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Long term unemployment is a perennial policy concern for several reasons. First, it tends to have detrimental effects on the individuals involved. Workers’ human capital (whether actual or perceived by employers) may deteriorate during a spell of unemployment, and the time devoted to job search typically declines. Both factors imply that the chances of getting employed may increase thereby reducing the time period used up for job search.

More generally, long-term unemployment adversely affects people’s mental and physical well being and it is one of the most significant causes of poverty for their households. Second, insofar as the long-term unemployed become gradually detached from the labor market, they play a reduced role in the competition for jobs. This means that unemployment is less effective in curbing wage pressure, potentially leading to even further increases in unemployment and its persistence (Machin and Manning, 1999). These and related considerations have motivated a wide variety of policies to address the problem of long-term unemployment.

How to Tackle Long Term Unemployment A Collective Approach to Bounce Back

Policy interventions combine elements of ‘stick’ and ‘carrot’. They involve job search requirements and sanctions to promote sufficient search effort; or direct assistance to the unemployed, including help with their job search process and training provision. In addition, governments may provide wage subsidies to firms that hire the long-term unemployed. A number of social experiments in the United States provide evidence on the effects of job search assistance and stricter search requirements. The combination of these two policies often leads to a reduction in the time spent on unemployment benefits. At the same time, this does not necessarily mean that everyone coming off benefits is being employed in a new job (Card et al, 2010).

The US evidence on the effects of training programmes for welfare recipients and employment subsidies is, at best, mixed. The overarching conclusion is that these programmes – at least in the short term – are often ineffective at improving the re-employment chances of the unemployed and in several cases would not pass a cost-benefit test.

Statistical Reflection of the Long Term Unemployment Issue in the US

In January 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the December 2016 jobs report. The new numbers demonstrated a positive sign towards a reduction of unemployment, with employers reporting net job growth of 2, 30, 000 for the month.

However, one disturbing aspect of the report should be the relatively high rate of long-term unemployment. While the percentage of jobless workers unemployed 27 weeks and longer has been trending downward in recent years, it is still exceptionally high by historical standards and has shown no signs of improvement in the last 6 months.
Even more disturbing is the relatively high rate of “extreme” long-term unemployment, the condition of being unemployed one year or longer. The figure below shows extreme long-term unemployment as a percentage of total unemployment from May 1977 to present. Currently, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, there are over 2.1 million Americans who have been out of work over the past 18 months.

It is noteworthy that in both 2015 and 2016, the average duration of unemployment was 16.3 weeks; as of last month, i.e. December 2016 the average unemployment spell was around 40 percent longer at 27.6 weeks. And because most of the long-term unemployed are no longer eligible for unemployment insurance, they have to get by without any public support.

Collective Approach to Seeking a Solution for Long Term Unemployment

In May 2013, a Joint Economic Committee was constituted by the US Congress to come up with solutions to tackle the menace of long term unemployment and also suggest remedies through collective participation of employers and employees. The Committee came up with a list of guidelines which are still in the process of being implemented right from the grass-root level to the national level.

The guidelines were meant to provide employment to long-term unemployed people aged between 25-60 (which includes people seeking temporary positions even after retirement from the full time job) including returning war veterans who are not allowed to take up any positions in government offices as well as the armed forces, after retirement. Some of the major points in the guidelines were:

  1. Providing incentives for private-sector employers to hire veterans and the young, including extending or expanding tax credits.
  2. Streamlining the process of obtaining certifications and occupational licenses.
  3. Furthering higher education opportunities for young early-career and mid-career professionals.
  4. Building upon existing programs to ensure that both young persons and returning veterans can obtain the training required for jobs in growing industries.
  5. Ensuring that returning veterans have the assistance they need in transitioning from active duty to the civilian workplace.

It remains to be seen now whether the above guidelines are implemented effectively over the next 5-6 years to do away with the issue of long term unemployment.

Finding Solutions to Long Term Unemployment at an Individual Level

Some of the major steps that have been taken across the world to tackle long term unemployment effectively may also be used in the USA by the Department of Labor as well as the central think-tank to tackle this issue. Some of those remedial measures are:

Counselling the long term unemployed aged between 25-45 by orienting them to change the professional avenue they may have been involved in, earlier. For example, orientation to switch over from a job that involves physical labor to one that involves more of skilled mental labor.

The Department of Labor and the Departments of Training and Skill Development need to organize long term training programmes at economical rates to help the unemployed population develop hard and soft skills for different types of jobs. This will increase options at the time of job search at an individual level.

Education at all levels including the undergraduate and postgraduate levels should ensure inclusion of practical training programmes best suited for a particular profession through long term engagements such as research projects, internships etc.

Individual psychiatric counseling should be provided through both the public and private health care system to keep the unemployed population motivated for long periods and to guard against the cons of long term job search and its effects on a person’s mental and physical health.

Every state should prepare a list of their unemployed population and make special efforts to place the right people in the right jobs by dividing the existing population and creating a talent pool for various kinds of organizations. This will ensure people with the right kind of educational background (in case of freshers) and the right kind of work experience (in case of those with work experience) walking into the right organizations best suited to the needs of both the employers and the potential employees.

The Department of Labor should reach out and tie up with recruitment consultant agencies to notify the unemployed about vacancies in government jobs more often. Currently, the agencies only notify about vacancies mostly in the private sector which limits the options for the unemployed.

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  1. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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