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Long-term unemployment tumbles to its pre-pandemic level, helping to ‘mitigate the risks of labor-market scarring’


Long-term unemployment tumbled below its pre-pandemic level in July, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday, as an unexpectedly strong showing of job gains buoyed workers broadly across the economy.

Long-term joblessness is a period lasting at least six months. Those without work that long are exposed to more financial risks, since they’ve generally exhausted eligibility for unemployment benefits and it becomes harder to find another job during lengthy unemployment spells.

The number of long-term unemployed fell by 269,000 in July, to 1.07 million people — less than the roughly 1.1 million people in February 2020, according to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report.

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Further, 18.9% of all unemployed Americans in July were considered long-term unemployed — a significant reduction from the 22.6% share in June and less than the 19.1% pre-pandemic share in February 2020, according to the agency.

By comparison, a year ago, in July 2021, more than 39% of all out-of-work Americans had been jobless for at least six months.

“Long-term unemployment was a serious concern earlier in the recession,” said Daniel Zhao, lead economist at career site Glassdoor. “We had this experience during the Great Recession where it was very difficult to get workers back into the labor force and back to jobs.”

Long-term joblessness can lead to ‘scarring’



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