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Woman holding sign saying I need a job.
Long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high, with 4.1 million people, or 36.1 percent of those officially unemployed, having been jobless for six months or more. For those people, getting a job is more difficult than even the terrible overall job statistics suggest, because they're routinely discriminated against. That discrimination is not just anecdotal:
In a recent study, Rand Ghayad a Ph.D. candidate at Northeastern University, sent out 4,800 dummy résumés to job postings. Those résumés that were supposedly from recently unemployed applicants with no relevant experience were more likely to elicit a call for an interview than those supposedly from experienced workers out of a job for more than six months. Indeed, the callback rate for the long-term jobless ranged from just 1 to 3 percent, versus 9 to 16 percent for newly unemployed workers.

Unemployment becomes a “sorting criterion,” in the words of a separate study with similar findings. It found that being out of a job for more than nine months decreased interview requests by 20 percent among people applying to low- or medium-skilled jobs.


These are not results that jobless people can reverse by just thinking positive or applying for jobs paying less than they previously earned, to name two common suggestions for dealing with unemployment. Outlawing unemployment discrimination would be helpful, but the most important step would be slashing the unemployment rate. If only the Republicans would stop blocking job-creation initiatives.

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