That’s what they are calling the long-term unemployed. The new underclass. If you still have a job, at one time or another you’ve probably thought (or submitted a comment ), “Just get a job!” If you still have a job, you might think the economic recovery, weak though it is, means that everyone who lost their job should be able to find a new one by now. It’s not happening.
There are over 4 MILLION people who are classified as long term unemployed (people who have been out of work for more than a year). We make up 40 percent of the unemployed. We could fill the 15 largest football stadiums in the US and more than 2.5 million people would be stuck in the parking lots. That’s a lot of people.
Employers are adding jobs, it’s true. But it’s a fact that employers are also actively discriminating against the unemployed. As this article from USA Today says “some companies — including PMG Indiana, Sony Ericsson and retailers nationwide — have explicitly barred the unemployed or long-term unemployed from certain job openings, outright telling them in job ads that they need not apply.” This discrimination has become so obvious and widespread that some areas (e.g., New Jersey, Chicago) are proposing to ban companies from rejecting prospective employees based on current employment status or bad credit.
This issue is getting more attention lately. Both this artice in the Business Insider (The Truth About the Long Term Unemployed) and this recent 60 Minutes segment (A new jobs program for people trapped in unemployment) do a good job of showing some of the people behind the numbers. As 60 Minutes says, “These folks have been out of work two years, three, even four. They’re college educated professionals in their 40’s or 50’s; people who thought their company would take them all the way to retirement.”
The people interviewed for these stories used to belong to the middle class. They had college degrees, homes, cars, and have had gainful employment their entire working lives. Then they lost their jobs and their lives imploded. They have applied for hundreds, even thousands of jobs. They’ve gone back to school and ‘reinvented’ themselves. They’ve networked and pounded the pavement, and are willing to take any job. They just can’t find one. And, seriously folks, it’s NOT their fault.