March 2012, John Schmitt and Janelle Jones

In this paper, we attempt to paint a demographic portrait of long-term hardship in the labor market. We display various measures of long-term hardship by race and gender, education, and age. In addition to the conventional long-term unemployment rate, we also show a broader measure that captures further dimensions of long-term hardship. This additional measure is the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s “U-6” alternative unemployment rate, which adds “discouraged” workers, the “marginally attached,” and workers who are “part-time for economic reasons” to the official unemployment rate.

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The graph above shows percentages of short-term unemployed (STU); long-term unemployed (LTU); U-6 - A Bureau of Labor Statistics alternative measurement for unemployment/underemployment; and not in the labor force (NILF).