For Immediate Release: January 08, 2010

Prolonged High Unemployment Could Have Serious Long-Term Consequences

(Washington, D.C.) Bureau of Labor Statistics figures released today show that the nation's unemployment rate remained high at 10 percent in December 2009. While double digit unemployment rates may have lost their shock value, that figure alone shows neither the depth of employment crisis for low-income communities across the country nor the long-term consequences of high unemployment.

High unemployment plagued some populations before the economic downturn and is now an even greater crisis. For youth, the unemployment rate is 27.3 percent, a roughly 14 percent increase in the last decade. The rate is even worse for youth in disadvantaged communities. Unemployment for workers without a high school diploma is more than five points higher than the national average at 15 percent. The rate for blacks is 16.2 percent, and for Hispanics, 12.9 percent.  If discouraged workers (those who are no longer looking because they can't find jobs) and underemployed workers (those who want to work full-time but can only find part-time work) are factored in, the unemployment situation is far grimmer, with more than one in six workers underemployed or out of work.

"It's been clear for quite some time that our nation's policymakers must take additional steps to address the nation's jobs crisis," said Evelyn Ganzglass, director of workforce development at CLASP.  "High unemployment for an extended period can have adverse, lasting consequences for workers, families and their communities. Long-term unemployment depletes family resources, which has negative consequences for children. And for young people, joblessness early in their careers diminishes their long-term career prospects."  

In late December, the House passed a bill that includes provisions that would aid the long-term unemployed, invest in job training programs, and provide tax relief to low-income, working families. And the Senate is scheduled to take up a jobs bills shortly after it reconvenes on January 19.  A final jobs bill should include targeted interventions that will address the profound jobs crisis among low-income populations.


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