Long-term unemployment is close to a Great Recession record

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  • The January jobs report shows high rates of long-term unemployment, which is a period of joblessness lasting at least six months.
  • This is a financially risky period in which household income may drop, finding a job is harder and future earnings potential typically suffers, according to economists.
  • Almost 40% of jobless workers are long-term unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, nearing the record 46% set following the Great Recession.

Long-term unemployment is edging toward a historical peak, almost a year into the pandemic-fueled downturn.

Workers are deemed to be “long-term unemployed” when their jobless spell is longer than six months.

It’s an especially dangerous period of unemployment, according to labor economists.

For one, household income may drop significantly. But the dynamic also makes finding a new job more difficult, scars workers’ long-term earnings potential and raises the odds of losing a job (if they find one) down the road, economists said.

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Almost 40% of jobless workers in January were long-term unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The share has grown steadily since the spring and is approaching the record set in April 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. At that time, nearly 46% of the unemployed were out of work at least six months.

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