New Poll: Unemployed Not Looking for Work

Forty percent of the unemployed have given up looking for work, according to a Harris Poll released Wednesday. The poll, “The State of the Unemployed,” was done for the Oklahoma City-based Express Employment Professionals. The survey takes a close look at the jobless in a time when unemployment rates are falling.

This is the second year the company has conducted such a poll. Last year, 47 percent of people without jobs had given up looking. Robert Funk, the company’s CEO and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said the number is still too high, especially since the nation’s unemployment rate for April was 5.4 percent, down 0.8 of a percentage point from the year before.

“I think that what has happened with the unemployment numbers of the last couple of years is that they have gone down because individuals have stopped looking for work,” he said. “That is why we are down to the fives rather than the sixes. It is not that our unemployment has gotten that much better.

“We were trying to analyze why those numbers were going down when really there are a lot of people still out of work,” Funk said. “Many of them had stopped looking for work, which means they have lost hope.”

Among the survey’s other findings:

* The overwhelming majority of the jobless are considered long-term unemployed, or those who have been without work for at least six months. More than two out of five have been jobless for more than two years.

* The youngest and the more mature workers are the groups hardest hit by unemployment.

* Nearly half blame themselves for being unemployed.

I agree with the poll findings. The unemployment problem is much larger than what the official unemployment rate indicates. The problem in Ashtabula County remains very serious.

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