This past summer, some 45 percent of the unemployed (6.8 million of 14.6 million) had been jobless for 6 months or more, by far the highest proportion of long-term unemployment since the government began keeping track in 1948. The situation is especially acute for those over 50 years of age.
Two recent reports detail the disturbing trends. “No End in Sight,” a study published in May by scholars at the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University, found that only 21 percent of those who were unemployed in August 2009 had found work by March 2010. For workers over 50, the figure dropped to 12 percent. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in May also found that the median duration of unemployment was longest among workers 50 and over (followed by production and transportation workers and black workers).