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February 1984, Vol. 107, No. 2
Recent recessions swell ranks
of the long-term unemployed
The recent recession in the United States produced the highest unemployment rates in more than 40 years. It also produced unusually long periods of unemployment for a workforce that is normally among the most dynamic in the world.
Millions of Americans move into and out of each labor force category (employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force) every month. Generally, about half of the people who are unemployed in one month are no longer unemployed the next, some finding jobs and others ending their job search for other reasons. These people are then replaced by newly unemployed persons. Short-term unemployment is quite normal in a dynamic economy and, within limits, is necessary for the normal functioning of the job search process.
During 1982, however, as in any recessionary year, fewer unemployed people could find jobs, and, consequently, more remained unemployed from one month to the next. As a result, the number of persons out of work 15 weeks or more rose sharply.
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1984 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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