The percentage of people who have been unemployed for longer than six months dropped in December under 40% for the first time in over three years.
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Although weekly numbers may fluctuate, the long term unemployment picture has been one of the most challenging for the economic recovery.
Almost 4.8 million people are jobless, down from the 6.5 million peak in 2010 but still more than at any other time since World War II.
Until now, long-term unemployment had proved resistant to other improvements in the labor market.
Recently, the unemployment rate among the long-term unemployed has declined faster than for the broader population.
The number of long-term unemployed has dropped by 830,000 over the past year.
Local workforce development agencies have helped the long-term unemployed improve resume writing and interviewing skills and have made connections to employer for those looking for jobs.
The decline in long-term unemployed is good news and alleviates the fear by the Fed that these people would become permanently unemployed and create a structural employment problem.
Some drops in unemployment rates can be attributed to people dropping out of the search for work. But the number of people who say they are looking for work
has risen by about 400,000 in the past year.
The numbers of Americans with jobs has risen by 2.4 million. The gains in long-term unemployed still have not reached the longest unemployed.
The numbers of people unemployed for three years or longer has not budged.