4.4 Million Americans Unemployed for a Year or More

unemployedAs the nation's economic recovery continues to struggle, more and more unemployed workers are joining the ranks of those who have been without work for a year or more.

The long-term unemployed make up about 30 percent of the nation's jobless -- about 4.4 million people, according to June data released by the government earlier this month and reported by The Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required). That's up from 29 percent in June a year ago.

The problem is most acute in New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois and Florida, the Journal notes, citing Labor Department data due to be released later this month

"I don't want us to say this is the new normal and move on," said Betsey Stevenson, the Labor Department's chief economist, told the newspaper. "It really is going to take a concentrated effort of employers to give people a chance who haven't worked in a while."

But that's all too frequently not the case.

Despite increased scrutiny and strong public opposition to the practice, employers and staffing firms continue to deny job opportunities to those workers hardest hit by the economic downturn, including those searching for work for many months, according to a report released earlier this month by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy organization.

A sampling of online job postings on sites such as CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com and others showed numerous listings that included language such as "must be currently employed" to apply, according to NELP's research.

And there are few signs that the nation's overall jobs picture is improving. Initial claims for unemployment benefits, which the government tallies weekly, rose 10,000 last week to 418,000, after adjusting for seasonal variations in hiring, the Journal notes.

Given lackluster job creation and the continued high rate of layoffs, many jobless workers, unfortunately, won't see their epic pursuit of employment end anytime soon.

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