America’s long-term unemployment rate, which 5 years ago rose to levels not observed since the Great Depression, is now declining rapidly. As indicated by writer Floyd Norris, the proportion of the workforce that has been unemployed for at least 27 weeks has declined to below 2 percent, well less than half the record high of 4.4 percent reached in 2010.
According to a recent report by two Federal Reserve Board economists, since the end of 2013, the long term unemployment rate declined by half a percentage point, thereby accounted for almost the entire decline in the overall unemployment rate. As a result, for the first time in five years, fewer than a third of all unemployed workers have been out of work for at least six months.
During the first half of 2014, that figure declined at its fastest rate in more than half a century. Despite all this progress, the level of long term unemployment remains high by historic standards. But the point is that the nation’s labor market recovery is now beginning to touch more lives in positive ways.