Forever unemployed: Why N.J.’s long-term jobless rate remains among highest in U.S.


Alain Chahine lost his job two years ago.

Since then, he said, he has completed more than 600 applications and sent 200 messages to his network looking for leads.

Those efforts produced 18 interviews in 2013, 35 more in 2014 and 12 so far this year, Chahine said.

But the number of full-time job offers to date?


“There’s nothing funny about the job search process,” said the 57-year-old northern New Jersey resident. “You’re at the mercy of the process itself and that’s the frustrating part.”

Federal jobs reports point to a rebounding labor market, though the unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent in March. But the percentage of jobless residents out of work 27 weeks or more remains historically high.

Nationally, about 30 percent of jobless residents have been unemployed at least 27 weeks.

The situation is much worse in New Jersey.

Of 302,000 unemployed residents in New Jersey in 2014, roughly 41 percent, or 125,000 people, have been out of work at least 27 weeks, according to federal labor data. Though down from a peak of about 51 percent in 2010, the data still mean New Jersey’s long-term jobless rate is among the highest in the nation.

Only New Mexico and Washington, D.C., posted higher rates in 2014. North Dakota, Iowa and Alaska, on the other hand, had the lowest long-term unemployment rates in the country last year.

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