Jim Sinclair’s Commentary
Those that have fallen in the jobless donut hole now reach crisis levels.
Economists: Long-term joblessness is national emergency
Economists testifying before the House Joint Economic Committee said the elevated percentage of long-term unemployed people among those counted as jobless underscored deeper problems in the labor market.
By Kevin G. Hall
WASHINGTON — Seemingly intractable long-term unemployment has become a national emergency that requires new and creative steps if it’s to be reversed before it does permanent damage, several high-profile economists warned Congress on Wednesday.
Testifying before the Joint Economic Committee, the economists, who’ve served Democratic and Republican presidents, said the elevated percentage of long-term unemployed people among those counted as jobless underscored deeper problems in the labor market.
The labor-force participation rate is the lowest in 35 years, and the figure of about 11.7 million Americans officially out of work doesn’t capture the 102 million working-age Americans without jobs — about 41.5 percent of all potentially available workers, said Keith Hall, who until last year was the commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The long-term unemployment rate underestimates the number of long-term jobless,” said Hall, who’s now a researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, adding that the long-term unemployed are “helping to hold back economic growth.”
Because so many workers have disengaged from the job market, Hall said, the unemployment rate has fallen without significantly reducing joblessness.