Chairman Brady, Vice Chair Klobuchar, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to appear today to discuss the problem of long-term unemployment. In the testimony that follows, I will discuss the current status of the long-term unemployment crisis, review recent attempts to explain it, and then turn to possible policy options.
I. Long-term unemployment today
In December 2007, at the start of the Great Recession, the number of the long-term unemployed stood at 1.3 million, or 17.3 percent of all unemployed workers. Over the course of the recession the U.S. experienced an increase in the number of individuals unemployed for 27 weeks or more, a trend which continued after the recession’s close in June 2009. The number of the long-term unemployed peaked in April 2010 at 6.7 million, making up 43.9 percent of all unemployed workers. Currently, there are 4.6 million workers who are considered long-term unemployed, which comprises 39.3 percent of all unemployed workers.