Jobs

Chronic Unemployment Fuels Rise In Jobless Rate

Jobless by duration of employment

This has been a year of chronic unemployment. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you're unemployed and looking, take heart. The length of the average job search fell in August for the first time since November 2008. As of last month, the average hunt for a new gig took 24.9 weeks, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

In more ordinary times, that would hardly count as good news for laid-off people. Had the past few months not been so miserable, that 24.9 weeks would be the highest average since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keep records on duration of unemployment, way back in 1948.

Today's report shows an increase to 9.7 percent in joblessness, fueled in part by a continued rise in chronic unemployment. Employers cut the fewest jobs last month in a year, at 216,000. But people who've been laid-off already are having a hard time getting back into the workforce.

Now the overall jobless rate has hit a 26-year high. Back then, in June 1983, the average search took 20.8 weeks. Today, people are facing average searches that are a full month longer. The BLS says the number of people sidelined for 27 weeks or more has risen to 4,988,000 from 4,965,000.

After the jump, a chart on job searches.

Jobless by duration of employment

More people are spending between five and 14 weeks looking for work. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The National Employment Law Project estimates that half a million people will exhaust their unemployment benefits this month. The NELP says 1.5 million will run out of benefits by the end of the year.

As of August 22, some 6,234,000 people were collecting unemployment benefits, up 92,000 from the week before. The Department of Labor reports that as of August 15, another 3 million people were receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation, a federally funded program that allows for 33 additional weeks of benefits in high-unemployment states. The emergency benefits rolls grew by 85,570 from the week before.

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