Saturday, June 05, 2010

Duration of Unemployment

by Bill McBride on 6/05/2010 01:16:00 PM

Unemployment Duration This graph shows the duration of unemployment as a percent of the civilian labor force. The graph shows the number of unemployed in four categories as provided by the BLS: less than 5 week, 6 to 14 weeks, 15 to 26 weeks, and 27 weeks or more.

Note: The BLS reports 15+ weeks, so the 15 to 26 weeks number was calculated.

As we've discussed before there was more turnover in the '70s and '80s - back then the 'less than 5 weeks' category was much higher as a percent of the civilian labor force than in recent years.

What really makes the current period stand out is the number of people (and percent) that have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more (red line). In the early '80s, the 27 weeks or more unemployed peaked at 2.9 million or 2.6% of the civilian labor force.

In May 2010, there were a record 6.763 million people unemployed for 27 weeks or more, or a record 4.38% of the labor force. This is significantly higher than during earlier periods.

It does appear the number of long term unemployed is near a peak (the increases have slowed). But it is still very difficult for these people to find a job - and this is a very serious employment issue.