(A status you'd like to avoid)
Have started to thin
From the slow growth we're in;
Is it reason to be overjoyed?
The jobless in longer-term stages
Are fewer than they've been in ages,
Though many returning
To rolls of the earning
May settle for minimum wages.
There's a glimmer of good news for the long-term unemployed: your chances of finding employment are growing. The proportion of job-seekers unemployed six months or longer was 39.1% in December, the first time this ratio has fallen under 40% in more than three years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Although that still leaves 4.8 million long-term jobless, it's a considerable reduction from the peak of 6.5 million in 2010. But, you say, haven't most long-term unemployment reductions come from discouraged job-seekers dropping out of the labor force? The answer appears to be: not so much. The number of jobless who report they've given up looking is estimated at 400,000 over the last year, while the number of Americans with jobs rose by 2.4 million over the same period.
Now for the bad news: wages of returning workers fall by 11% for every year they are out of the workforce, and unemployment benefits no longer last 99 weeks - it's now 73 weeks at most, depending on your state of residency. Some of the long-term unemployed may have been motivated by their expiring benefits to take lower-paying jobs. Finally, those poor souls who have gone three or more years without work had no holiday cheer in December, as their numbers have not yet reduced.