Bright spot in jobs numbers: Long-term unemployment falls

Zachary Roth
Senior National Affairs Reporter
The Lookout

The government's monthly jobs report released Friday morning was mostly underwhelming. It showed that employers added 80,000 jobs--well below the roughly 95,000 experts were expecting, and not enough to put much of a dent in the overall unemployment figure.

But there was one bright spot: long-term joblessness. The report showed that nearly 5.9 million Americans last month had been out of work for at least 27 weeks--the official definition of long-term unemployment. That's still a huge number, by historical standards, but it's down from 6.2 million in September.

Long-term unemployed as a share of the total jobless population also declined to 42.4 percent last month, from 44.6 percent the previous one.

Still, an analysis released this week by Pew, based on government figures, found that nearly one in three unemployed Amerians had been out of work for more than a year. When people are jobless for an extended period, their skills tend to atrophy and it becomes more difficult for them to find a job in the future.

Over the summer, Yahoo News readers shared their own stories of being out of work for a long time.