Study: Job Market Still Grim

Despite signs the job market is improving, new research suggests that few people who have been out of work for more than six months are finding jobs. A Rutgers University study finds that only one in five of the long-term unemployed have landed new jobs, and many of them are accepting lower pay and fewer benefits.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

In this country, there are signs that the job market is improving, though a report out this morning suggests that few people who've been out of work for more than six months are finding jobs.

NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH: Back in August, researchers at Rutgers University surveyed a representative sample of unemployed Americans. They recently checked back in with those people, and just one in five of those who were looking for work back in August have actually found jobs.

Professor CLIFF ZUKIN (Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University): When we saw it was 21 percent, we thought, oh, that's horrible.

KEITH: Cliff Zukin is a professor at the Heldrich Center for Workforce at Development at Rutgers. He says the picture is even more dim if you dig deeper.

Dr. ZUKIN: It's really just 13 percent who found full-time jobs. And it's only 10 percent who obtained a job that's on par, salary-wise, with their old job.

KEITH: For those 50 and older, the report finds the job search has been particularly challenging.

Kenneth Pepin(ph) is 65 years old, and participated in the survey.

Mr. KENNETH PEPIN: You find, a lot of places, they're not hiring people my age.

KEITH: Pepin was laid off from his job in boat manufacturing two years ago, and has been looking for work ever since. He says he's only been called in for a few job interviews.

Mr. PEPIN: When I went to them, I was the oldest one there by far and, you know, I didn't get the job.

KEITH: But he's still searching, along with several million other Americans. The government's April unemployment report is due out on Friday.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington.

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