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3 Million Americans are "Hopelessly Unemployed"

One statistic from the Labor Department that doesn't get covered much are the three million Americans who want a job, but haven't searched for employment in at least a year.

These folks are called the "hopelessly unemployed," reports CNN.

Stephen Bronars, senior economist for Welch Consulting, told CNN: "The way we're measuring the long-term unemployed has a lot of holes in it. A person can be discouraged for a while, but then gets bumped over into this other category."

"It's hard to say exactly who these people might be. That's because they say they want to work, but also say they aren't looking. The questioning doesn't go much deeper than that."

The Labor Department started tracking hopelessly unemployed workers in 1994.

Five years ago about 2.5 million people said they wanted a job, but hadn't looked for a year.  Now, the number of hopelessly unemployed is closer to 3.25 million.

The fastest growing demographic of hopelessly unemployed workers are over age 55, who usually have a harder time finding jobs. These could include older workers who would prefer to have kept their jobs, but were pushed into early retirement because of the recession.

There are also parents who take time off to have a family, but then postpone their plans to re-enter the job market because of the economy.

Students who want jobs, but gave up on the search, and decided to go back to school instead are also part of this category.

Studies have shown that the longer a person is unemployed, the weaker his or her chances are of getting a job, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy.


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