By: Richard Andrew
Most people would say that the country’s jobless rate started improving around the beginning of 2010, in spite of Congress’s obstructionism. A recent Huffington Post article, Unemployment Rate Falls To 7.4 Percent Thanks Partly To Low-Wage Jobs, reported than, “The unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent as 162,000 more Americans had jobs in July, the U.S. Labor Department announced Friday.” That statistic seems very promising, but what about all those people who have become the long-term employed, looking for a job for more than six months?
According to Bryce Covert, in his article, It’s Not The Fault Of The Long-Term Unemployed That They Can’t Find Jobs, “More than four million people have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, putting them in the category of the long-term unemployed, and they make up nearly 40 percent of all people who are out of work but seeking a new job.”
Corvert goes on to say, “Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is that those who have been looking for a job for more than six months are typically much older than those who just lost their jobs. About 15 percent of the long-term unemployed are ages 56 to 65, but just 8 percent of those who have been out of work for under five weeks are that age.”
However, the report notes that given how similar the long-term unemployed look to all other workers, what they really need is an improved job market and policies that would lower the unemployment rate overall.
Niraj Chokshi’s article, 6 Ways to Get the Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work, seems to have some solutions. It’s more than what our “just say not” Congress has given. Here are five:
Economic growth: It may seem surprising , but the surest way to supply jobs to those out of work whether it long-term or not, is to improve the economy.
Tax incentives: One way to encourage reluctant employers to hire those who have been out of work the longest is to give them a tax incentive to do it. Something similar already exists. In January, President Obama signed into law an extension of the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, which included an up to $5,600 incentive for hiring veterans who have been out of work six months or longer. In his 2011 American Jobs Act, President Obama proposed a similar credit of up to $4,000 for employers who hire the long-term unemployed broadly.
Trial employment programs: Hiring someone, anyone, is a risk. A trial employment program can eliminate that risk by funding a short stint with a local employer for a jobless individual. If the employer likes the work, they can hire the person full-time.
Direct hiring into government jobs: If the government wants to reduce the number of long-term unemployed, it could simply prioritize hiring them, as Hassett suggested.
Focus on skills training and education: “Good jobs with a solid future are growing,” Johnson said, “but they often require the jobseeker to take a risk and change careers. To lessen the risk, we have had great success in providing month-long pre-vocational ‘Career Academies’ for adults who are looking to move into Health Care, Advanced Manufacturing or Alternative Energy.” “Good jobs with a solid future are growing,” Johnson said.
If we understand a problem and have solutions to solve the problem, it seems to the average citizen that we should be able to fix the problem. The last election, so many politicians, from both sides of the isle, promised “The most important thing I will do if elected, is solve the jobs issue and bring the unemployment rate below five percent.”
There was a clear mandate by the voters to do just that. Then, as soon as the election was over everything was done by the Republican backed Tea Party, to make sure jobs were not Congress’s main priority. What do we have to do to make jobs the number one priority when this Congress gets back from their “much needed “ recess? We can’t expect anything before the midterm elections from this do nothing obstructionist group of Republicans.
Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.