Differences in jobless rates

Although the economy is improving and unemployment rates are falling, the job market is not good for everyone. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains to host Mary Walden who’s having the toughest time landing a job.

“Well, first of all, your point about the job market improving: The numbers do show that. For example, the percentage of workers who’ve been fired or laid off is now at a 13-year low. Also, in 2009, there were seven jobless people for every job opening. Today, there were only three.

But if you look at people who’ve been unemployed, it’s really people who have been unemployed for a long time who are having the toughest time getting a job. So now by long time, we define it as 15 weeks or longer. So we divide unemployed folks between those who been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer or shorter than 15 weeks.

“Actually, the people in the last category, 15 weeks or less, their unemployment right now is almost down the pre- recessionary levels. But the folks who  have been employed a long time ago, 15 weeks or more, their unemployment rate is still three times higher than it was prior to the recession.

“What this tells many economists is that the problem for those folks may be they don’t have the right skills to match up with the kinds of skills needed today in the workplace.”

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