While many economists say this decade’s Great Recession ended in the middle of 2009, millions of struggling Americans still working hard to find meaningful employment would definitely disagree…and now, the figures do too.
According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report, more than 40% of the nation's 14.9 million unemployed workers have been out of a job for at least 27 weeks, with an average member of this beleaguered club having been unemployed for 29.7 weeks. For those keeping count, that’s nearly seven months.
And with each passing month, it becomes more and more clear that finding new jobs isn’t getting any easier, with leading economists speculating that not only is the nearly 10% unemployment rate not likely to fall anytime soon, but also that the actual number of workers seeking full-time jobs is on par to grow. As Matthew Scott reported for AOL’s DailyFinance.com, “in the worst-case scenario, more than 26 million people could be battling each other for the few available jobs.”
A Shift in American Industry Yields No Available Jobs
The reason: a general decline in certain American industrial mainstays such as construction and manufacturing that may never return. Add that to the fact that few industries will likely be in a position to pick up the slack from these hard-hit construction and manufacturing sectors, unable to accept large numbers of new workers in the next few years, with all signs pointing to more unprecedented joblessness during that time.
More facts and figures are against us when you consider that many of the job cuts companies made during the recent economic downturn may remain permanent unless any purported recovery leads to genuine expansion in American industry—not, as Scott reports, “just the moderate 3% to 4% annual growth that has been projected through 2012.” In short, if job cuts become permanent, it could cause real upheaval in some industries, forcing many workers to retrain when they can to find work in different industries where they can.
A Shift in Part-Time to Full Time Yields Few Openings
Even when hiring does begin to pick up, the unemployed have to compete against an unexpected pool of qualified applicants: part timers. As Scott reported, “Employers have been filling full-time schedules with part-time workers until companies feel more confident about their future growth prospects. People in those part-time positions will likely be hired full-time before employers look at other workers.”
Even when part timers become full timers, Scott says, “the 2.5 million workers who are discouraged and have stopped looking for work -- and as a result don't show up in the unemployment statistics -- will begin returning to the labor market. Add them to the 14.9 million unemployed already counted and the part-timers, and that's at least 26.4 million people potentially looking for work. The nation would need double-digit gross domestic product growth to absorb that many workers.”
A Shift in Perception Yields Positive Growth in New Fields
But it’s not all bad news on the homefront. Some predict that within the next eight years, millions of job openings could appear in education, health care, government and nonprofit.
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