Nearly 4 million Americans have been out of work for at least six months

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Almost 10 months later, Davis is still looking for work. A 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry, she has applied “seamlessly” to a wide range of positions, including management, operations and as an executive assistant, with little or no reply.

To give herself more options, she is now studying to become a real estate agent and is taking online courses to earn a bachelor’s degree in marketing at the University of Maryland.

“I’m trying to find whatever I can to pass,” said Davis, 36, who lives in Bethesda, Maryland. “The reality is that the restaurant, restaurant and events industry will not be the same for a few years. ”

Although employers have rehired millions of Americans since the coronavirus pandemic rocked the economy last spring, nearly 4 million workers like Davis are now among the long-term unemployed, up from 2.4 million in September. These people, unemployed for at least six months, represent more than 37% of the unemployed.

And once the unemployed have reached that dark stage, it is often more difficult for them to re-enter the workforce – further slowing the country’s economic recovery.
“They’re stuck and starting to face discrimination,” said William Spriggs, professor of economics at Howard University and chief economist at the AFL-CIO. “Employers think this is damaged goods. ”

The growing ranks of the long-term unemployed will make the job of President-elect Joe Biden harder by weighing on the country’s unemployment rate, which remained at 6.7% in December, the first month it failed to improve since April. The rate will continue to be high until these workers find jobs or become discouraged and leave the workforce, Spriggs said.

A closer look at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that just over half of those without long-term work come from a few industries: leisure and hospitality, which make up a quarter of the group, as well as services education and health. and wholesale and retail trade.

The difficulty of getting a new job affects both the most skilled and the least skilled, executives, professionals and salespeople with long-term unemployment rates even higher than those in service jobs.

Meanwhile, among unemployed black and Asian Americans, more than 40% have been out of work for at least six months, according to federal data. But among their white and Hispanic counterparts, the figure is closer to a third.

Women are slightly more likely to be long-term unemployed than men, especially among those aged 25 to 44. The reverse is true among 45 to 64 year olds.

Strong competition for jobs

Tyler Johnson lost his job in April signing up clients with a telecommunications company. The 23-year-old wants to stay in the marketing business to use the certificates he has earned. He also hopes to work from home because he fears contracting the coronavirus.

While the Tulsa, Oklahoma resident has said he could likely work at a fast food restaurant, he’s trying not to back down in his career. He had several virtual interviews for telecom positions, but was later told that a more qualified person had been selected.

“The workforce is crowded,” said Johnson, who is also starting his own business, Clay Johnson Entertainment Promotion. “So many people are looking for the same job. ”

Recognizing that many Americans are struggling to find new jobs, Congress last month extended two key pandemic unemployment programs to 11 weeks. Both were due to expire at the end of 2020.

Lawmakers also approved a $ 300 weekly benefit increase through mid-March. A weekly federal bonus of $ 600 ran out at the end of July.

According to the most recent federal data, about 8.4 million workers claimed benefits under the Unemployment Compensation Emergency Pandemic Program in the week ending December 19. The measure, which Congress created in March as part of its historic expansion of the unemployment program, provided up to 13 additional weeks of benefits.

4.5 million Americans received payments under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which opened benefits to those not traditionally eligible, including freelancers, concert workers and self-employed workers.

Andrew Appold is grateful that Congress extended expiring unemployment programs and included the additional payment of $ 300 per week. An entertainment technician at Disneyworld, Appold has been on leave since April. He went through the savings he racked up last year from the $ 600 increase and had to turn to family and credit cards to cover his expenses. He only receives $ 275 a week in state unemployment benefits.

Appold, 31, completed his Masters in Organizational Leadership and Project Management last year. The Davenport, Fla. Resident applied for several hundred jobs across the country but only got one interview for a personal assistant job he ultimately didn’t get.

Andrew Appold has applied for hundreds of jobs across the country since he was laid off in April.

And these days, most of the jobs he sees posted are for low-wage positions he’s overqualified for.

His next step: Appold plans to save as much money as possible to start traveling to other cities to personally submit CVs to companies. He is also developing his line of pop culture graphic arts clothing, AJacob Fashions.

“Applying for jobs on LinkedIn to anonymous email addresses that you can’t reply to doesn’t really work anymore,” Appold said.

Did you lose or get a job in December? Tell us about it.

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