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After 5 Months, Average Job Seeker Gives Up

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    After 5 Months, Average Job Seeker Gives Up

    June 8, 2011

    Jobless Americans who dropped out of the work force typically searched for work for five months before ultimately giving up last year.

    The amount of time the unemployed spent hunting for jobs rose sharply last year. Those out of work tended to search for about 20 weeks before quitting in 2010, compared to 8.5 weeks in 2007, according to a recent Labor Department report. The report studied how long unemployed workers took to either find a new job or quit looking.

    Labor-force participation, the share of Americans who are working or looking for jobs, has fallen to its lowest percentage since the mid-1980s. That’s partly because people have grown discouraged about their ability to find jobs and have given up looking. With those workers on the sidelines, the unemployment rate has been lower than it otherwise would be.

    The official unemployment rate hit 9.1% in May. Including all of those who had part-time jobs but wanted to work full-time as well as those who want to work but had given up searching, the rate was 15.8%.

    While sidelined workers can keep the jobless rate lower, they weigh on the economy in other ways. The nation loses their output — from the goods or services they would provide in their jobs as well as the spending that would come from their paychecks. And, if they move onto programs such as Social Security disability, the government could end up supporting them for the rest of their lives.

    Those lucky enough to finally land a job last year found they had to spend more time searching. Job seekers took a median of more than 10 weeks to find new positions last year. That’s up from five weeks in 2007 before the recession began.

    And, in what’s likely to create a more persistent problem for the U.S. labor market, the odds of finding a job steadily decreased the longer someone was out of work. Some 30% of Americans who had been out of work for less than five weeks found new jobs last year.

    Those odds deteriorated for the long-term unemployed. Of those who had been unemployed for more than six months, slightly more than 10% found new jobs. Nearly 19% dropped out of the workforce.

    The problem endures this year: As of May, 6.2 million had been out of work for more than six months and more than 4 million haven’t work in more than a year.

    Filed/discharged/closed Chapter 7 in 2010!

    I don't blame the unemployed for giving up after 5 months or 1 year or 2 years. I was unemployed over 2 years. Luckily, I could do some small level of consulting which helped me when applying for jobs. I finally got a really good job with a quality company. They didn't run a credit check on me either, which was very nice. I can't tell you how many hundreds of jobs I applied to, how many stupid interviews I went on, how many live and phone interviews I went on, how many people wasted my time. How frustrating and costly it was to interview constantly. It's the worst experience in the world. Hopefully if you just keep trying, you will eventually find a job. If it's a crappy job like I took last month, then you keep looking on the side until you land a better one, which I did. I will continue to vote and support for unemployment extensions for the unemployed.


      I still haven't found one after being laid off 10/2008. Have had two temp jobs since then which has allowed my UI to be extended but I am not going to give up. I may have to move somewhere else once the house forecloses but I still have faith that there is something out there.

      It's tough, at age 57, to find work BUT, there have been a few interviews where I was in the top 5 candidates so am not giving up. With the bk I may be able to work part time as I could then get into Senior Housing. It's a wait and see game.

      I also will continue to support UI extensions.


        I as seriously looking for work b/w June 2008 and Oct 2009. Got about 8 interviews - each time I was rejected because I didn't have skill D out of A,B,C,D,E,F. For one interview, my recruiter told me to write a nice think you note just for being interviewed - oh the humility!

        With my cash reserves quickly twindling (since I was keeping current on $4K/mo debt service payments! ), I decided that one last interview in October 2009 would be my last. I did the interview and while waiting, I looked into Chapter 7. Seeing how I could come out far, FAR ahead by just throwing in the towel, stopping making the payments, not working, and planing on a Chapter 7 in 5 months hence, I ended up not being aggressive in following up for that interview and was of the mind to turn down that job if I had actually gotten it (of course, I didn't get it.) I turned a few possible interviews after that, as once I was in the Chapter 7 mode, there was no stopping me, and any cash I would have earned would simply have gone into the BK estate and probably have taken me out of the Chapter 7 possibility due to income.

        Now I am teaching English abroad!


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