Two years ago, I was like many who came Feb. 16 to Rutgers University’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. The center hosted a roundtable for job seekers, volunteer career coaches, local leaders and employers to understand the problem of long-term unemployment better.
Joined by former Gov. Jim Florio and Rep. Frank Pallone, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez led a discussion as one person after another shared stories of devastation as they continue to look for employment to support their families.
Those stories felt too familiar. In January 2014, I was one of the nation’s then nearly 3.6 million long-term unemployed. I was 52 and had spent two of the previous three years jobless. The great recession hit everyone hard, but older workers like me had a particularly tough time bouncing back. Even now as the overall unemployment rate fell below 5 percent for the first time since 2008, more than 2 million people have been out of work for more than six months. Today, the typical duration of unemployment for workers between 45 and 64 is still about a month longer than it is for younger workers. Read More.