The Truth About Long Term Unemployment
What is Long Term Unemployment?
Often referred to as “Americans on the sidelines”, the long-term unemployed refers to candidates that have been out of work for 27 weeks (approximately 6 months) or longer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prior to the COVID-19 epidemic and the massive wave of cyclical unemployment followed, there were approximately 1.2 million long term unemployed Americans at the beginning of March 2020. This number does not include people who have lost their jobs and given up on looking for employment (they are considered to have left the workforce). In the past decade since the Great Recession, across almost all demographics, locations, and education levels, Americans have experienced elevated levels of long term unemployment which will likely further increase due to economic ramifications of the COVID-19 epidemic.
For the massive amount of unemployed Americans due to the COVID-19 epidemic, making sure you do not end up unemployed in the long term is crucial to your personal well-being and future career prospects.
Hearing the term “unemployment”, renders strong emotions inside of nearly everyone – a sense of despair, personal humiliation, emotional turmoil, personal disappointment, self-doubt, anger, disbelief, sadness, hopelessness and fear. Anyone who has been unemployed, knows the tendency you have when unemployed to dwell on your circumstances and ask yourself tough questions like “What if I never get a job?”, “How am I supposed to support myself? ” and even the overwhelming “Who am I?”.
There are two job markets – one for candidates who have been out of work for less than 6 months and one for candidates that have been out of work for longer.
Data suggests that the longer you have been out of work, the harder it is to get back into the workforce. In research documented by The Atlantic, the unemployment curve for those who have been unemployed for more than 6 months shifts upward regardless of age, levels of education, whether you are a blue-collar or white-collar worker, or even seniority – all that matters is how long you’ve been out of work.
This data is understandable given the personal hardship and circumstances that leave you feeling directionless, stressed, a loss of inner confidence, and self-doubt. The long-term unemployed experience these feelings at a heightened level and only intensify the longer someone is unemployed.
Working a less-than-ideal job is better than nothing. Have you heard the saying “It’s easier to find a job when you have a job”? It’s true. That inner confidence is invaluable.
The blend of personal stress and employer discrimination that long-term unemployed candidates experience when attempting to re-enter the workforce which drastically reduces their potential and available opportunities.
Clients and companies often believe that long term unemployment often becomes habitual, eroding skills and familiarity with the workplace. Rejoining the workforce after a period of long term unemployment is personally challenging – you’ve got to regain motivation, rebuild personal confidence and re-adapt to the fast paced working world.
When trying to find a new employer, the long term unemployed may experience a form of discrimination as a result of negative stigma associated with unemployment and large gaps in your resume that leave you incorrectly appearing as “damaged goods” or unmotivated.
Job interviews can also pose a challenge as long term unemployment can leave candidates feeling a loss of spirit, a lack of sense of self, and can feel desperate which shows in job interviews.
How to Escape Long Term Unemployment
Are you ready to get back to work? Let PACE help! Contact PACE’s Candidate Services team at 425-637-3301 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Staffing companies such as PACE are equipped to identify transferable skills, help you find a role that’s a great fit for your skillset, be your partner in re-entering the workforce and be your advocate when be evaluated by new employers (including taking on hard conversations about gaps in employment!).
What to do next? Restore the structure in your life and focus on your personal enrichment by creating a routine. Treat job seeking as your full time job until you are employed.
Sure, unemployment might feel like one large stressful personal crisis where you swing on a pendulum daily of feeling full of hope and hopelessness, but you are unlikely to see any positive changes if you are constantly dwelling on your current circumstances.
The best way to survive long term unemployment and a tough job search getting back into the market, is to know that you’ll overcome it.