Study: Official Government Numbers Don’t Show Real Unemployment Situation

BLS says average unemployment duration is 8 months, however a new survey finds average is almost two years. Official data doesn’t count Americans who have given up looking for work.

Express Employment Professionals, the nation’s largest franchised staffing firm, recently released results of the “State of the Unemployed” survey that show the average duration of unemployment in America when those who have quit looking for work are taken into consideration.

Unlike the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says the average duration of unemployment is 34.5 weeks, or roughly eight months, this survey includes those who have stopped looking for work altogether. The result: the real average duration of unemployment is closer to two years.

The exhaustive survey was fielded online by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals from April 9 through April 21, 2014 among 1,500 unemployed adult Americans age 18+.

The average duration of unemployment, according to the survey, is 23.2 months.

When asked how long they had been out of work:

  • 23% of respondents said three months or less
  • 16% said four to six months
  • 15% said seven to 12 months
  • 14% said 13 to 24 months
  • 32% said more than 24 months

“This is what unemployment in America really looks like,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “The number most commonly cited for average duration of unemployment isn’t the full picture, and when we don’t look at the full picture, we don’t realize how tough the job market still is for millions of Americans.

“When you take into account those who have quit looking for work, the average duration of unemployment is almost two years. It’s not surprising that so many of these individuals have given up looking for work, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore them when assessing the situation. They may have given up on finding a job, but we can’t give up on them.”

Read the full report.

Survey Methodology: This study was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals and included 1,500 U.S. adults aged 18 or older who are unemployed but capable of working (whether or not they receive unemployment compensation benefits) who participated in an online survey between April 9 and April 21, 2014. Results were weighted as needed for age by gender, education, race/ethnicity, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Totals may not equal the sum of their individual components due to rounding. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

Refresh Leadership is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

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