The Labor Department reports there are 3.25 million Americans who are labeled “discouraged workers” because they’ve ceased to find employment — despite the growing number of jobs available.
Several factors have been linked to these individuals’ decisions to stop seeking employment: 1) Age – Workers over the age of 55 have a harder time finding employment. They are the fastest growing number of discouraged workers. 2) Family – Some parents have utilized their unemployment to focus more on raising their children during the fickle economy. 3) Education – Students who anticipated a blossoming career upon graduating from college have decided to enroll back in school until the economy stabilizes.
The discouraged workers pose a long-term threat to the unemployment in the United States as the country slowly regains a stronger economy. “The way we’re measuring the long-term unemployed has a lot of holes in it,” said Stephen Bronars, senior economist for Welch Consulting. “A person can be discouraged for a while, but then gets bumped over into this other category.” Economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute, believes the recession has increased the number of discouraged workers. “We have always had a set of people who want a job but for whatever reason are not looking,” she said. “But this recession was so severe and job opportunities are still so weak, this group is growing because of that. We know we have this huge pool of missing workers,” Shierholz said. “And we are not yet in a labor market that draws people in.”