From Jennifer Latson, The Houston Chronicle:
When the grim milestone arrived – one year of unemployment – Jay Williams vowed to take drastic action. Scouring job boards and dropping résumés into a seemingly endless abyss were getting him nowhere.
“That’s why I resorted to the sign,” he said.
For nearly two months now, Williams, 43, has spent his 9 to 5 carrying a sign in downtown Houston, either in the tunnels beneath energy companies, banks and law firms, or aboveground, on paths that hiring executives might tread at lunchtime.
It says “Business Logistics Professional Seeking Employment.” The headline, which so far hasn’t yielded any job offers, proclaims the plight of experienced, college-educated workers like Williams whose long-term unemployment has forced them to take desperate measures.
While some economists have heralded an end to the recession, many agree that the high unemployment rate – which remains near 10 percent – is likely to linger. And federal labor statistics released this month show that long-term unemployment continues to rise, reaching 6.5 million people out of work for more than six months as of March: 44 percent of the total number of unemployed.
That’s a staggering number, even compared to previous recessions, said Heidi Shierholz, labor market economist for the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Shierholz said. “Right now, 4.3 percent of the whole labor force has been unemployed for more than six months. That might not sound like that big a number, but it’s enormous. The highest before this, since the Great Depression, was 2.6 percent during one month in 1983.”
The repercussions of long-term joblessness can be severe and lasting, even beyond the immediate financial hardship after unemployment benefits run out. It can permanently damage workers’ career trajectories, Shierholz said.
“They’re more likely to drop out of the labor market altogether, or to face lifetime hits to their earnings,” she said. “One of the reasons is that it can really affect your marketability. You have employers who, either appropriately or not, will take it as a signal that this is somehow your fault. Employers really hate that gap in your résumé.”
Continue to the full article at The Houston Chronicle.