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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 onpoint@wbur.org.

Guests:

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.

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Apr 24, 2015
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Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

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Apr 24, 2015
Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

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The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP)

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