Events | Jobs and Unemployment

Long-term unemployment: Causes, consequences and solutions

Date: May 26, 2010

[Video from this event is now available]

Before it extended unemployment insurance in April, Congress allowed the program to lapse, interrupting benefits for 400,000 Americans. That extension runs out in June, and though the labor market is again adding jobs, unemployment — particularly long-term unemployment — continues to rise and will remain high for some time to come.

Nearly 46% of unemployed workers have been jobless for at least six months, representing the highest long-term unemployment rate in at least six decades. Those workers face dim employment prospects with well over five unemployed workers competing for every available job. This EPI forum explored the dimensions of long-term employment, examined the magnitude of the problem, the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance safety net, and the long-term consequences of policy action or inaction. The claim that unemployment insurance is leading to higher unemployment will also be addressed.

The program included opening remarks from Lawrence Mishel and featured presentations from four renowned labor economists.


Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy institute


Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Jesse Rothstein, Chief Economist, United States Department of Labor

Heidi Shierholz, Economist, Economic Policy Institute

Till von Wachter, Associate Professor of Economics, Columbia University