Long-term unemployment is not going away

Sub-prime mortgages. Foreclosures. Bankruptcy. TARP.

All words that became part of our everyday conversation as the devastating financial crisis unfolded.

Michael Thurmond

Michael Thurmond

Now, unfortunately, another term will be getting a lot more use as the shakeout from this mess continues. In fact, until the economy started to add some jobs recently, the depth of this problem was masked by the overall downturn. I’m talking about long-term unemployment — a calamity that will be with us for quite some time.

There are many stats that could bring this problem home, but a few will suffice. A year ago, the long-term unemployed — those out of work for 27 weeks or longer — made up 24 percent of Georgia’s jobless. Today, it’s 47 percent and tomorrow the number will likely be higher.

More than 225,000 Georgians who are ready to work — and used to work — have not been able to find a job in more than six months. They’ve struck out — on the pavement and on the Web — for at least 189 days.

We know the short-term effects – families pinching pennies. But what’s going to happen long-term? Will it play out like foreclosures, which have reverberated far beyond the properties seized by lenders?

Yes, said state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, who told me the number of long-term unemployed will rise to 50 percent of Georgia’s jobless in a month or two.

“The most enduring lesson over my 12 years as labor commissioner is that sometimes bad things happen to good people,” said Thurmond, who’s giving up the job to run for U.S. Senate. “A huge amount of productivity is down the drain.”

How will this change our society, Mr. Thurmond?

– Before this recession, he said, many of the long-term unemployed were minorities. But this time, since construction and manufacturing took a big hit, many are white men whose jobs may never return.

– Many male breadwinners are feeling frustrated and depressed, Thurmond said. At the same time, many women are under the gun, working to support their families and sometimes still playing the key role at home.

– Marriage may decline since it often comes after both young adults are employed.

– There is likely to be more intergenerational living. Not only among young adults moving back with parents, but it can go the other way when older workers lose jobs or lack sufficient retirement income.

That’s enough depression about the recession. How about a solution?

“Job training programs need to be redesigned to serve a new, male-dominated population,” Thurmond said. And the training will need to be compressed, given the length of time the long-term unemployed already have been without work.

Public officials, he said, including his office, the technical and two-year colleges and social service agencies, will need to work together in a more comprehensive way. So will political opponents.

“We need to get out of the political wars of left vs. right,” Thurmond said. “It can’t be solved that way. This is an atypical problem. … It’s not part of the American Dream where you have trained, educated folk who can’t find work.”

No it’s not. It’s more like the American nightmare.

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8 comments Add your comment


June 29th, 2010
6:43 am

They never should have let that 875k go in transportation money. Reason. We have cities we could have added that money back into our transportation budget like Macon. We need to be more creative in how we deal with the monies given to us by the Federal Government. Thats for starters.


June 29th, 2010
6:49 am

See. If we diversify our State. Not just a city. We are going to make out well. Another words. We do not focus On. As a cooperating group. On just one area. We grow the rest of the state. Quietly of course. This may not seem like such a good deal for some. However. The labor and resources we need are also concentrated in one area. We need this labor and need to lease resources also. Again a more creative approach in how we all do things.


June 29th, 2010
6:55 am

Many of the societal changes would be an improvement. Let’s concentrate on the number of employed, 130+ million, instead of the unemployed. There are plenty of jobs to support our population. True, we must do a better “job” of preparing ourselves if we want to be a part of the labor force. But we have neglected our duties as parents and homemakers for decades and this will force us to reevaluate our true priorities. We need to concentrate on getting at least one person gainfully employed in each household. Those that have properly prepared for retirement need to go ahead and do so.

bankrupt nation

June 29th, 2010
9:39 am

it’s not going to get better anytime soon. i don’t know what the term is when u drop past depression into economic collapse, and there is really nothing to stop it . employed folks better try and save every dollar they can. the u s is slowy bleeding to death by two goofy wars to nowhere, massive borrowing and printing, hopelessly inept politicians, businesses closing at warp speed, and i can keep going, but i think u get the point


June 29th, 2010
11:06 am

ONE POINT tHERE R MANY JOBS BUT ONLY IF WE START DEPORTING….i NEED A JOB. i WAS BORN HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! deport deport deport Americans need work and we will do anything! Yes we will. We built this country! DEPORT!!!!!!!!!


June 29th, 2010
3:13 pm

How many “unofficial ” jobs are there? How many people do you know that has one? Do you have one? Should we become a nation of informants?

Boycott BP

June 29th, 2010
7:21 pm

Increase tariffs on imports so that it makes economic sense to produce goods in our country again. Asian imports have taken the apparel industry including home textiles, and costume jewelry. Those goods used to be manufactured in the South and the North and are now obsolete industries here.


June 29th, 2010
11:43 pm

How many of you are considering leaving the state to find your next job?

Leaving with relocation package being provided?