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March 2012, Vol. 135, No. 3
Job search of the unemployed by duration of unemployment
Randy E. Ilg and Eleni Theodossiou
Randy E. Ilg and Eleni Theodossiou are economists in the Division of Labor Force Statistics, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics (OEUS), Bureau of Labor Statistics. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The length of time the jobless spent searching for work before finding a job increased from 5.2 to 10.4 weeks between 2007 and 2010, edging down to 10.0 in 2011; for the unemployed who eventually quit looking and left the labor force, duration also increased sharply between 2007 and 2011, from 8.7 to 21.4 weeks
Following the 2007–2009 recession, the number of persons who were out of work for an extended time rose to record high levels. Consequently, median duration of unemployment rose to 21.4 weeks in 2010 and held through 2011; this measure, however, represents the ongoing number of weeks individuals had been unemployed when surveyed and is not a measure of a completed period of job search. That is, it does not indicate how many weeks an unemployed person took to find employment or leave the labor force. To provide estimates that more closely resemble "completed spells of unemployment," the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) created measures of the number of weeks the jobless took to find work or quit looking and leave the labor force. These data show that the median length of time an unemployed person searched before finding a job increased sharply between 2007 and 2010, from 5.2 to 10.4 weeks; in 2011, it edged down to 10.0 weeks. Unemployed individuals looked much longer for work in 2011, compared with 2007, before giving up and leaving the labor force, 21.4 weeks versus 8.7 weeks, respectively.
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Current Population Survey
Net flows in the U.S. labor market, 1990–2010.—Feb. 2011.
Trends in labor force flows during recent recessions.—Apr. 2009.
Analyzing CPS data using gross flows.—Sept. 2005.
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