Mary Helen Kress: Action needed for Manatee/Sarasota's long-term unemployed

April 7, 2014 

Long-term unemployment is a growing issue for our community despite our slow climb out of the recession. They will have a tough road ahead, based on the findings in the article "Are the Long-Term Unemployed on the Margins of the Labor Market?" by Alan B. Krueger, Judd Cramer and David Cho of Princeton University.

Among the workers who reported they had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in a given month between 2008 and 2012, only 36 percent found employment. What is more startling, of the 36 percent only 11 percent stayed employed full-time for at least four months.

Despite long-term unemployment declining the past four years, the number of those not working more than six months or more still exceeds the previous peak reached in 1981-82, they said.

The authors found that the share of long-term unemployed that were previously working were in sales and service jobs (36 percent) and blue collar jobs (28 percent). Further, they learned when this group did return to work, they tended to return to the same industry and occupations from which they were displaced.

When they compared the unemployed to the employed as a whole, they found the unemployed were younger, less likely to be married and less educated. About one-third of employed workers had a bachelor's degree, while less than 20 percent of the unemployed had one; nearly 20 percent had a high school diploma, which is twice the rate for the employed.

The authors' past research found that the longer one is out of work, the less time they spend on their job search, fewer applications are submitted and they are less likely to be called for interviews.

What does all this mean for our community? In January 2014, there were 19,070 unemployed residents in Manatee and Sarasota counties. If you apply the duration of unemployment 12-month moving average for Florida based on the Department of Economic Op

portunity labor statistics to determine the number of long-term unemployed workers in the two-county region, it would equate to 45.9 percent, or 8,753 residents.

What can we do to help these folks? We are providing tools, resources and supportive services they need for today's jobs and training in high-demand occupations for jobs of the future. But that is not all it will take to help this population.

"Overcoming the obstacles that prevent many of the long-term unemployed from finding gainful employment, even in good times, will likely require a concerted effort by policy makers, social organizations, business communities and families, in addition to appropriate monetary policy," the authors said.

Mary Helen Kress, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast -- a non-profit corporation that provides talent sourcing and development services for businesses, job seekers and workers in Manatee and Sarasota Counties -- writes about employment issues in Manatee County.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service