Help Not Wanted

Help Not Wanted

The economy is now in "recovery" mode, though you'd hardly know it from the job market. Unemployment is still hovering near 10%. And long-term unemployment hasn't been this bad since the 1940s, when the government started keeping track. Every measure is off the charts: the average duration of unemployment; the percentage of people who have been job-hunting for more than 6 months; the ratio of available jobs to job-seekers.
And the economy isn't creating nearly enough jobs at this point to absorb new entrants into the workforce, let alone re-employ the 7 million Americans who were laid off in the Great Recession. Some of these people worked for decades -- and honed their skills and educations -- in fields that will likely never rebound to previous employment levels. Finance, auto manufacturing and retailing, real estate, home construction -- all of these industries are in for years of restructuring and slow- or no-growth.
All this means that historically high unemployment -- and persistently long-lasting unemployment -- will likely hang on for years to come. Our series “Help Not Wanted” tells the stories of people who are struggling through this economic restructuring. And it explores the financial, social and entrepreneurial impacts of this new job shortage on workers and families, communities and companies.
  • Current Base Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (May 2010)
  • Highest Unemployment during Great Recession:10.1% (Oct. 2009)b
  • Highest Unemployment in a Previous Recession*:10.8% (Nov.-Dec. 1982)
  • Total Unemployment Rate (inc. discouraged workers): 16.6% (May 2010)
  • Average Duration of Unemployment, Current: 35.1 weeks (May 2010)
  • Highest Duration of Unemployment in a Previous Recession*: 21.8 weeks (May 1983)
  • Long-Term Unemployed (27 or more weeks), Current percentage: 46.2% (May 2010)
  • Highest Long-term Unemployed in a Previous Recession*: 27.6% (May 1983)
  • States with Highest Unemployment, in order (April 2010): Nevada (14 %), Michigan (13.6%), California (12.4%), Rhode Island (12.3%), Florida (11.7%)
  • States with the Lowest Unemployment, in order (April 2010) North Dakota (3.6%), South Dakota (4.6%), Nebraska (4.9%), Vermont (6.2%), New Hampshire (6.4%)

    *Note: Bureau of Labor Statistics Data from Current Population Survey go back to 1948
    • Jorge Blanco with his parents at his graduation.

      A jobless recovery and a lost generation

      The tough job market new college graduates are getting dumped into may significantly affect their chances for higher positions and salaries. (06/18/2010)
    • Steven Kirn

      Grappling with a mid-life job crisis

      When it comes to the job losses Americans are suffering through, it's been said that this has been very much a "middle-class" recession. That's because it's hit a broad number of industries. And many workers may never catch up to the career level they were before. Mitchell Hartman has the story of one worker who has had to start over. (06/18/2010)
    • Help Not Wanted sign

      Reporter's Notebook: Meeting the Long-Term Unemployed

      Getting back into the job market proves tough for workers in Chicago struggling against record-breaking trends in long-term unemployment. (06/17/2010)
    • A sign posted in front of a job fair

      A visit to a Chicago job fair

      Mitchell Hartman talks to senior executive assistant Marsha Gooden as she goes on a search for new employment. (06/18/2010)
    • Mary Piazza

      Who's hiring at the Chicago job fair?

      What jobs are on offer at this point in the so-called "recovery?" For our series on long-term unemployment -- "Help Not Wanted" -- reporter Mitchell Hartman dropped in on a job fair in suburban Chicago to find out. (06/18/2010)
    • A potluck for a self-help group for the unemployed

      The effects of long-term unemployment

      Once you're out of work in this recession, you're almost out of luck. Long-term unemployment hasn't been this bad since the 1940s. Job applicants are having to look longer and beat out more competition. Employers, meanwhile, have found ways to get things done without having to hire. Mitchell Hartman reports. (06/10/2010)
    • A man looks at employment notices

      Jobs report: Why there isn't more hiring

      The math on the May jobs numbers goes like this: 431,000 jobs were added to the economy last month. Subtract 411,000 -- they're temporary census workers. And what you have is a dispiriting 41,000 net new places to work for the month of May. Reporter Mitchell Hartman takes apart the numbers with Kai Ryssdal. (06/04/2010)