LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT

According to certain indicators, the national economy has displayed encouraging signs of improvement.  Private-sector employment has increased by 10.9 million jobs over a 57-month span, the continuation of a record streak. The numbers also author a less-heartening narrative.  While the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent as of November 2014, those classified as long-term unemployed – individuals who have not worked for 27 weeks or more – remained at 2.8 million, representing 30.7 percent of the overall figure. New Jersey’s percentage of long-term unemployed citizens – 46.3 percent of the total unemployed – far exceeds that of the national average and ranks second in the country, behind only Florida at 46.5 percent. The nature and dimension of the problem, particularly for older segments of the population, calls for the state to disrupt the negative cycles that have ensnared the long-term unemployed by amplifying existing solutions, including targeted career advisement, peer-support professional networks, hiring incentives for employers, commitments from employers to consider the long-term unemployed and the provision of training and counseling.