What is Long Term Unemployment?

Line Outside Unemployment Office
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Long term unemployment is a category of unemployed workers that includes those who have been unemployed more than 27 weeks.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has raised the upper limit on how long someone can be counted as having been jobless in the unemployment reports from two years to five years. As of September 2015, the BLS confirmed 2.1 million people have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks, accounting for 26.6 percent of the total unemployed.

While the Great Recession officially ended in mid-2009, long term unemployment and underemployment still remain all too common even many years later. 

Strategies for Long Term Unemployed Workers 

For the long term unemployed, applying for jobs can be frustrating and discouraging. Confidence and an upbeat attitude are such important parts of the job search process, and with extended time out of the workplace, it can be hard to embrace and project those qualities. As well, more time out of the office means a bigger remove from the latest technology updates and work practices, which can lead to a certain reluctance from hiring managers to interview and offer jobs to the long term unemployed. 

Here are a few strategies for long-term unemployed workers seeking to get hired:

  • Reevaluate and revamp your resume: If you've been unemployed for awhile, it's a good idea to review your resume. You may find that updating it to be functional, rather than chronological, will make your skills and experience the first thing hiring managers notice (rather than your time out of work). Remember as well that unpaid work — whether it's serving on a board or organizing volunteers at a soup kitchen — is relevant experience.
  • Stay active: When you're unemployed, applying for jobs becomes your new full-time occupation. But don't think of writing cover letters and searching for jobs as the only tasks you can do. Attend networking events, conferences, training opportunities, and other work-related happenings. As well, continue to socialize, and develop an elevator pitch about your desired next job. The people you meet everywhere — from career-related events to holiday parties — are all potential connections to your next job. See more on how to use networking to find a job.
  • Stay positive: This is perhaps the hardest task off all, since long-term unemployment can be profoundly isolating and demoralizing. Still, do your best to maintain social relationships: Allow friends and family to support you, whether that support is financial or emotional. Do your best to keep your attitude upbeat—your attitude and how you carry yourself are very important during interviews. Bolster your confidence by remembering praise you received in previous positions.
  • Switch paths: Sometimes, jobs become irrelevant with changes in the economy, technology, or within a given industry. If that's the case for you—or if you've been trying to get a certain job in a certain career path for a long time without success—consider training for a new job or seeking a temp job. Switching to a different field may allow you access to new opportunities. Think about your core skills—are you organized? Do you have an aptitude for math?—and then consider ways those same skills could be used in other fields. 

    Find out more tips for applying to jobs while you are unemployed.

    Benefits for Unemployed Workers

    Workers who are unemployed for a long time may face the risk of running out of unemployment benefits. If you are concerned, always start by checking with your State Unemployment Office to get precise details on the benefits you're entitled to receive. If benefits have run out completely, see where you can get help next.

    Also Known As: long-term unemployment, long-term unemployment, long-term unemployed

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