The New Face of the Unemployed

will-s-0209Preparing for the long-term recovery.
Economic pundits have recently brought more focus to what can be termed as long-term unemployment. They define it as a period of unemployment lasting six months or more. Estimates are that more than five-million people, or approximately one-third of the unemployed, are currently in this category. Many in this group come from industries that have provided stability in recent decades, such as the automotive, manufacturing, and high-tech fields. These industries may never fully rebound even as the economy starts to recover.

Playing the Waiting Game

It has been estimated that nearly 20 percent of the unemployed in America have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many of those now facing unemployment have never been unemployed, or have never faced more than six months of unemployment during one given stretch. Unemployment benefits have served as a stop-gap measure as people readjust their way back into the workforce. Unfortunately, this readjustment period now takes longer on average than it did in the past. The federal government has passed legislation that allows up to 99 weeks of unemployment for those who are out of work. But for some, even that is not enough.

Doing What It Takes To Survive

One of my best friends, well-equipped with a master’s degree, has decided to give the sales industry a try after looking for a job in his field for almost two years. All of the offers he received from his old industry were nowhere close to what he was earning. Another friend recently decided to take the kids out of daycare and become a stay-at-home mom. She then took some photography courses and now does freelance photography, at weddings and other small engagements around town, to supplement their family income.

A while back, one of my neighbors leased out part of his home after a long layoff. He eventually accepted a job that paid half of what he had been making, and actually feels fortunate that he was able to keep his home while working through that extremely difficult period.

Stay Vigilant and Be Proactive

There are no simple solutions in our current economic landscape, and things are not going to improve overnight. Some employers believe that there could be atrophy in your skills, or that there could be other underlying reasons why you have not found work. Brush up on your skills and continue reading your professional journals. When you were employed you barely had time to keep up with current research in your field, catch up and surge ahead. You will have a great answer if the employer asks what have you been doing in these months off.

Also, be honest with prospective employers. Don’t be afraid to touch upon the fact that you have been out of work for some time. Some might see this as an attribute of your strength and fortitude to persevere though turmoil. Employers generally want to add people who are open to change and can adjust to challenges. Change and adaptability are now the keys to surviving the current economic calamity. Do your homework and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Good luck with your job search endeavors and always keep your head in the game.

Wil Smith is a Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. Wil has collected over 20 years of expertise in the areas of Corporate Training & Development, Recruitment and Operational Management; with the majority of that time working with a Fortune 500 Corporation. He has also worked in the Sports/ News industry as a Reporter and Broadcaster.

1 Response to “The New Face of the Unemployed”


  1. 1 Stephen Moore November 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Good points but not everyone will get 90 weeks of UI !!


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