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Long-term Unemployed Americans Still Struggling, Study Reports

Update Date: Sep 26, 2014 01:14 PM EDT

As the economy within the United States starts to improve, people are having a relatively easier time finding jobs. However, this is unfortunately not the case for everyone. A new study conducted at Rutgers University's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development found that long-term unemployed people, defined as being out of a job for more than six months, are still struggling.

For this study, the researchers interviewed a nationally representative group of 1,153 people. 394 of them were unemployed, 389 had been unemployed for more than six months at some point in their lives over the past five years or were currently unemployed for more than six months, and 463 were employed.

As of August 2013, around three million Americans fell into the long-term unemployed category. Two million Americans were unemployed for more than one year. The researchers noted that even though the percentage of long-term unemployed people have fallen from 2010's rate of 46 percent, the current rate is still above 26 percent, which was the rate calculated during the 1983 recession.

Overall, one in five workers who were laid off over the past five years is still unemployed. About 50 percent of all laid-off people had gotten a new job that paid less than their old one did. About 25 percent of these people stated that their jobs were temporary.

In terms of assistance, only one in five long-term unemployed adults sought out help from a government agency. 22 percent participated in a training program to increase their skill set. 60 percent received zero help except in the form of unemployment benefits. When asked if they would support government plans to increase funding for education and training programs, roughly 66 percent of Americans said yes. Around the same amount of people would support an increase in spending on roads and highways, which would provide more jobs.

"While the worst effects of the Great Recession are over for most Americans, the brutal realities of diminished living standards endure for the three million American workers who remain jobless years after they were laid off," said Professor and Heldrich Center Director Carl Van Horn reported in the University's press release. "These long-term unemployed workers have been left behind to fend for themselves as they struggle to pull their lives back together."

About 70 percent of long-term unemployed people reported that their savings and income are lower now than they were five years ago. 80 percent of them rated their current personal financial situation as only fair or poor. One major consequence of poor finances was increased stress levels. More than 60 percent of the long-term unemployed and recently unemployed people stated that their job status created stress in their relationships with their family and friends. Almost 50 percent of the long-term unemployed adults stated that it would take their families three to 10 years to recover financially. Roughly 20 percent believe that it will take longer than that.

This study's findings suggest that more needs to be done to aid the long-term unemployed population within the U.S. The report, "Left Behind: The Long-term Unemployed Struggle in an Improving Economy," can be accessed here.

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