The Long-Term Unemployed

Long-term unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression. How do people manage? Get by? Find a job? We ask.

In this photo taken Sept. 29, 2010, Sheila Portugal waits in line to meet with a recruiter while attending a job fair in Livonia, Mich. (AP)

Nearly 25 million Americans are now unemployed or under-employed and looking for jobs. Among the officially “unemployed,” 40 percent have been out of a job for six months or longer — and many much longer. These are the “long-term unemployed.” 

American long-term unemployment is now at levels not seen since the Great Depression. But the numbers are bloodless. The reality is brutally hard, on finances, on families, on self-confidence, and on resumes. 

Some fear they may never work again. What does that mean? We talk with the long-term unemployed.

-Tom Ashbrook

**If you are interested in getting in touch regarding this show or the guests featured in it, please email us at


John Ydstie, NPR correspondent and host who has reported on the U.S. economy for the past two decades. He played a big part in the recent NPR series: “The Skills Gap: Holding Back the Labor Market.”

Sheila Egan, pharmaceutical salesperson who has been out of work for more than a year. She’s a 47-year-old single mother who lives in Ohio. She was featured in the NPR series.

Michael Hall, a 50-year-old California systems engineer who worked with high-tech data and phone equipment. He has been out of work for two years now. You can see the NPR story featuring him here.

Matt Youngquist, employment counselor and coach who runs Career Horizons, in Bellevue, WA. He was featured in the NPR series. He’s coached more than 5,000 job seekers at all levels, from entry-level employees to  executives. See the NPR story that includes him.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

Nov 25, 2015
Three of baker Renee McLeoud's delicious pies, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 24, 2015
An archival image of a McKinley - Hobart Presidential Campaign Poster from 1896. (Public Domain / WikiCommons)

Republican political strategist Karl Rove is thinking about the McKinley 1896 campaign and the GOP field right now. Karl Rove is with us.

Nov 24, 2015
This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 shows fuel tanks  hit during the attack of Russian warplanes in Syria. Russian warplanes on Monday attacked oil extraction, transport and refinement facilities in areas controlled by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

ISIS, Inc. The terrorist organization is raking in billions –from oil, grain, antiquities, and taxes. We look at how to break the ISIS bank. Plus, Turkey downs a Russian plane. We’ll have the latest.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »