Half of the Unemployed Have Given Up on Work

May 28, 2014

According to a recent Harris poll, half of America's unemployed have given up searching for a job, reports J.D. Tuccille, managing editor at Reason.com. The April 2014 poll asked 1,500 unemployed adults questions about their unemployment experiences and views of the labor market. The results?

  • A staggering 47 percent said that they had "given completely up on looking for a job."
  • Moreover, 46 percent of the unemployed reported zero job interviews in the month prior to the poll. Of those who had been unemployed for a full two years, 71 percent had not had a job interview in the previous month.
  • Nearly one quarter -- 23 percent -- of respondents said that their last job interview was in or before 2012.
  • While 10 percent of the unemployed said that looking for a job had been easier than expected, 60 percent reported that their job search had been harder than they had thought it would be.

The Labor Force Participation Rate in the United States has been falling steadily in recent years, dropping to under 63 percent, its lowest level since 1978. In January 2004, the participation rate was above 66 percent.

Why the fall in participation? A report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank says that two-thirds of the decline is due to a combination of rising numbers of retirees and workers on disability. The researchers attributed 30 percent of the drop to discouraged workers. It also noted that many adults are choosing to pursue education rather than enter the job market.

The Harris poll also raises concerns as to the lengths to which the unemployed would be willing to go to find paid employment. According to the poll:

  • Forty-four percent of job seekers were not willing to change towns to find work.
  • Sixty percent refuse to move across state lines to find a job.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said that they "haven't had to look for work as hard" because of unemployment benefits.

Source: J.D. Tuccille, "Workers Really Are Dropping Out of the Job Market," Reason, May 22, 2014.

 

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