By Sara Murray and Phil Izzo - The Wall Street Journal
July 22, 2011
More than one in three of the unemployed workers in several of the largest U.S. states have been out of a job for more than a full year.
Across the country, long periods of unemployment have been more prevalent recently than during previous recoveries going back to the 1940s.
During 2010, long-term unemployment was disproportionately a problem in New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois and Florida, according to Labor Department data expected to be released later this month.
Nationally, 30% of the unemployed, or 4.4 million job seekers, were out of work for more than a year in June 2011, up from 29% of the unemployed in June 2010.
“I don’t want us to say this is the new normal and move on,” said Betsey Stevenson, the Labor Department’s chief economist. “It really is going to take a concentrated effort of employers to give people a chance who haven’t worked in a while.”
In Rhode Island, nearly 31% of the unemployed have been out of work for a year or more. Rhonda Taylor is one of them.
The 42-year-old, who lives in North Providence, R.I., with her husband and three children, was laid off from a $60,000-a-year information-technology post in April 2008 and hasn’t worked since. Her unemployment benefits ran out in March 2010. The family’s $28,000 in savings, which had been earmarked for retirement and a down-payment on a home, are now gone. Ms. Taylor’s husband, who stayed home to care for the children when she was working, doesn’t have a job, either.
“Neither one of us can find a job, even a part-time one,” Ms. Taylor said. “That’s all we need, a minimum wage part-time job in order for us to maintain a roof over our head.”
The family receives disability benefits for one child, but doesn’t have enough income to cover their $750-a-month rent. “You juggle it for a while and then when there’s nothing left to sell off, there’s no juggling anymore,” Ms. Taylor said. She says she expects the family to be homeless in a month.
Nearly all the states with large shares of long-term unemployed also had jobless rates higher than the 9.6% national average in 2010.
Rhonda Taylor on Fox News