Washington How tough is it to find a job these days?
The number of job seekers looking for work for six months or longer more than doubled from a year ago, while the average search for all unemployed workers increased by a month during the same period.
More than 2.9 million people were seeking jobs for 27 weeks or more in February, the Labor Department said Friday, up from the year-ago tally of 1.3 million. Last month’s total is the highest on record dating to 1948; though adjusted for the size of the workforce, the numbers were much worse in the early 1980s.
Still, what’s distinct about the current recession is how quickly the ranks of the long-term unemployed have grown.
The number of Americans unemployed for six months or more reached 2.89 million in June 1983, when the labor force was about two-thirds its current size. But that peak wasn’t reached until more than six months after the steep 1981-82 recession was over.
The current figure of 2.92 million people is likely to get much higher as overall unemployment rises this year. Many economists project the unemployment rate will top 9 percent this year, up from 8.1 percent last month and 5.8 percent last year. And the Federal Reserve has said it will remain elevated until 2011.