By Arnie Fertig
Have you, or someone you know, been out of work for more than six months? That's the demarcation line between short and long-term unemployment, and once you cross that mark, things change.
People describe themselves as having entered a black hole, according to Ofer Sharone, assistant professor with MIT Sloan School of Management. He recently organized and led a conference, "The Crisis of Long-Term Unemployment," for approximately 250 leaders in academia, government, nonprofit support organizations and other employment-related professionals.
"For the long-term unemployed, they feel there is something wrong and [think], 'I don't know how to fix it,'" says Matt Casey, a conference attendee and career coach based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Statistics point to the fact that about one-third of today's 9.8 million unemployed Americans find themselves in the category of long-term unemployed.
Speaker after speaker dealt with systemic economic issues and the need to create more and better jobs. Eric M. Seleznow, acting assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, put it this way in his keynote speech: "We need a sense of urgency for this particular problem."
Beyond the academic study of employment issues and trends and governmental policy advocacy, a number of key things were identified as helping individuals caught up in this national crisis: