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Getting the Long-term Unemployed Back to Work


February 10, 2014


Getting the Long-term Unemployed Back to Work

A recent white paper from the White House examines the problem of the long-term unemployed and the Administration's take on how to get these workers back into the pipeline.

As the report notes, while the nation's overall unemployment rate is recovering from the height of the recession, long-term unemployment is at historically high levels. The long-term unemployed are a more diverse group than you might expect, and a younger group: only 30 percent are age 50 or older. In addition, the long-term unemployed are slightly more educated, on average, than the short-term unemployed.

Recent research has demonstrated that the very fact of being unemployed in the long term is a major part of the problem-for instance, a 2013 study found that, given otherwise identical resumes, the likelihood of being called back for an interview falls dramatically as the length of unemployment increases.

The Administration proposes to combat the problem of long-term unemployment by engaging businesses to ensure that the long-term unemployed are treated fairly in the hiring process. The President is also signing a memorandum to do the same in federal agency hiring. In addition, he has proposed $150 million for a grant competition through the Department of Labor to scale up partnerships that help the long-term unemployed with training and job placement.

Sector partnerships, as the publication notes, are a way to bring the long-term unemployed back into the workforce by engaging stakeholders within industries to evaluate needs, re-train or refresh the skills of the long-term unemployed and match them with employers. Hands-on career and technical education and work-based learning are key to the success of sector partnerships. Examples highlighted in the white paper include the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnerships, the JVS Boston Bridges to College and Careers program, the City of Los Angeles' HealthWorks Initiative and NH Works.

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