Career Advice

Long-term unemployment: Definition with advice on finding a job

A person who has been away from the workplace for six months or longer is said to be experiencing long-term unemployment. Depending on the state of the economy and the stability of society as a whole, this problem may persist or arise only occasionally. Irrespective of your employment situation, it’s critical to comprehend the implications of long-term unemployment for you. In this post, we address frequently asked questions concerning long-term unemployment, provide a list of employability-boosting activities, and describe how to get assistance with your job situation.

What exactly is long-term unemployment?

The definition of long-term unemployment entails being without work for six months or longer while actively looking for work. A person may be out of work for a long time for a variety of reasons, including the economy, social issues, and health concerns. In times of generalized crises, such as global pandemics or financial collapses, long-term unemployment affects a large number of people from various socioeconomic origins and a range of social classes.

Long-term unemployment refers to a situation in which individuals are actively seeking employment but have been without a job for an extended period, typically for six months or more. It is a condition that can have significant financial, emotional, and social consequences for job seekers.

Key characteristics of long-term unemployment include:

  1. Duration: Long-term unemployment is characterized by an extended duration of joblessness. While the specific duration that qualifies as “long-term” can vary by definition, it is generally considered to begin at six months without employment.
  2. Active Job Search: Individuals experiencing long-term unemployment are actively seeking new job opportunities, submitting applications, attending interviews, and networking to secure employment.
  3. Challenges: Long-term unemployment can pose challenges to job seekers, including loss of confidence, financial strain, and potential erosion of skills and qualifications over time.
  4. Impact on Employability: The longer someone remains unemployed, the more challenging it may become to secure a new job, as employers may question the candidate’s current skills and commitment.
  5. Economic Impact: Long-term unemployment can have a broader economic impact, as individuals may rely on government assistance programs, and there may be a reduction in consumer spending.

Several factors can contribute to long-term unemployment, including economic downturns, industry-specific changes, geographic location, skill gaps, and individual circumstances. Long-term unemployment is a concern for both job seekers and policymakers, as it can lead to financial hardship, decreased job market competitiveness, and a sense of frustration for those affected. To combat long-term unemployment, various programs and resources, such as job training, career counseling, and targeted job placement services, are often provided to help individuals reenter the workforce successfully.

Types of long-term unemployment

The two primary categories of long-term unemployment are:

Cyclical unemployment

Whenever there is an economic recession or downturn, cyclical unemployment occurs. Many companies may lay off workers at these times to reorganize their finances and deal with lower sales. Other worldwide economic or health problems may also result in cyclical unemployment.

Cyclical unemployment can be challenging to deal with because there may not be many options available to you for escaping your current situation. A depression or recession occurs when there is a significant economic slump; it affects some job markets as a whole but helps others. A recession might make it impossible for you to switch careers, which makes the situation even worse. Relying on government programs, benefits, and perseverance is the best way to deal with cyclical unemployment.

Structural unemployment

Structural unemployment results when a person’s skill set is unsuited to the current employment market or the position they are seeking. Through specialized training, registering for internships or apprenticeships, and developing more job-specific abilities, individuals have additional chances to relieve the stresses of structural unemployment. With structural unemployment, there are more options to fill job vacancies because the work situation is untouched by the economy, unlike cyclical unemployment.

Government initiatives and programs assist those who are impacted by structural unemployment. Enrolling in these programs enables you to acquire the knowledge and professional experience necessary for specialized jobs. These positions are often found in the manufacturing, construction, or logistics industries. Additionally, there are government initiatives for white-collar employment that can help you progress your career and take on additional managerial responsibilities.

Here are some common types of long-term unemployment:

  1. Geographic Long-Term Unemployment: In some cases, job seekers may face long-term unemployment due to their geographic location. This can occur when certain regions experience economic decline, job losses in specific industries, or limited access to employment opportunities.
  2. Discouraged Long-Term Unemployment: Discouraged workers have given up actively seeking employment due to persistent job market challenges. They are no longer counted as part of the labor force and are not included in official unemployment statistics. This type of long-term unemployment can be demoralizing and difficult to overcome.
  3. Skills-Based Long-Term Unemployment: Individuals may experience long-term unemployment because their skills are outdated or no longer in demand. They may require retraining or upskilling to become competitive in the job market again.
  4. Age-Related Long-Term Unemployment: Older workers may face challenges in reentering the workforce after a prolonged period of unemployment. Age-related biases and a perceived lack of adaptability can contribute to this type of long-term unemployment.
  5. Underemployment: While not always considered traditional unemployment, underemployment occurs when individuals are working in jobs that are below their skill or education level, often due to a lack of suitable opportunities in their field. This can lead to dissatisfaction and financial strain, even if the individual is employed.
  6. Reentry Long-Term Unemployment: Individuals who took time off from the workforce, such as for caregiving responsibilities, may encounter difficulties in returning to work after an extended hiatus. This type of long-term unemployment can be particularly challenging for those seeking to resume their careers.

Each type of long-term unemployment may require tailored strategies and support to help individuals reenter the workforce successfully. Government programs, workforce development initiatives, education and training opportunities, and targeted job placement services are often used to address the specific needs of job seekers in these different categories of long-term unemployment.

What are the consequences of long-term unemployment?

One’s life can be significantly impacted by being unemployed, and it could be hugely damaging when it lasts for an extended length of time. Financial concerns are the most pressing problems that long-term unemployed people experience. You may need to take drastic measures to guarantee you have some economic independence, like selling your house or other possessions to keep afloat if you don’t have a steady income to support your family.

It can be demoralizing and emotionally draining to apply for a large number of jobs only to be rejected or not hear back. From a social, emotional, and financial perspective, long-term unemployment could have a large domino effect on many facets of your life. Additionally, it may significantly complicate not just your life but also the lives of individuals in your close circle. Even if you’ve been fired for circumstances beyond your control, it’s important to learn how to handle the situation and limit your losses.

Long-term unemployment can have a range of serious consequences that impact individuals, families, and society as a whole. These consequences can be both financial and non-financial and often have lasting effects. Here are some of the key consequences of long-term unemployment:

1. Financial Consequences

  • Financial Strain: Extended periods of joblessness can lead to financial hardship, including difficulty covering basic living expenses, paying bills, and meeting financial obligations.
  • Depletion of Savings: Individuals may deplete their savings, retirement funds, or emergency funds to make ends meet, which can have long-term repercussions on their financial security.
  • Increased Debt: Some individuals may accumulate debt, including credit card debt or loans, to cover expenses while unemployed, leading to financial stress and higher interest payments.
  • Housing Insecurity: Long-term unemployment can make it challenging to afford housing, potentially leading to housing instability, foreclosure, or eviction.

2. Emotional and Psychological Consequences

  • Stress and Anxiety: The uncertainty of unemployment, financial pressures, and job search challenges can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety, affecting mental well-being.
  • Depression: Prolonged unemployment can contribute to feelings of depression, isolation, and a loss of self-esteem and purpose.
  • Family and Relationship Strain: Financial stress and emotional turmoil can strain relationships with family members, leading to conflicts and difficulties at home.

3. Skill Erosion and Reduced Employability

  • Skill Erosion: Over time, individuals may experience a decline in their skills and qualifications, making it more difficult to reenter the workforce at the same level as before.
  • Reduced Employability: Extended periods of unemployment can lead to employers perceiving job seekers as less competitive or employable, creating challenges in finding suitable employment.

4. Long-Term Career and Earnings Impact

  • Lower Earnings Potential: Individuals who experience long-term unemployment may face reduced earnings potential over their careers, as they may accept lower-paying jobs when they do reenter the workforce.
  • Limited Career Advancement: Prolonged joblessness can hinder career advancement opportunities, as gaps in employment history may be viewed negatively by employers.

5. Health Consequences

  • Physical Health: The stress and uncertainty of long-term unemployment can negatively impact physical health, potentially leading to health issues such as hypertension, obesity, and sleep disorders.
  • Mental Health: Long-term unemployment is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

6. Social Isolation

  • Social Withdrawal: Job seekers facing long-term unemployment may withdraw from social activities, experiencing feelings of isolation and a loss of social connections.

7. Impact on Families and Communities

  • Family Stress: Families of individuals experiencing long-term unemployment may experience financial stress, emotional strain, and changes in family dynamics.
  • Community Effects: Widespread long-term unemployment can have broader community effects, including decreased consumer spending, increased demand for social services, and a potential decline in community well-being.

It’s important to recognize that the consequences of long-term unemployment are not limited to financial challenges; they also encompass emotional, psychological, and social aspects. Addressing long-term unemployment often requires a combination of support services, including job placement assistance, training and education programs, mental health resources, and financial counseling, to help individuals and families regain stability and find a path back to sustainable employment.

4 strategies to increase your employability

Although being unemployed may occur for reasons beyond one’s control, there are some things you can do to improve your chances of finding work:

1. Acquire a brand-new or extra talent

Long-term unemployment is the ideal opportunity to pick up new job-specific skills. Structured unemployment results from a lack of industry-relevant skills, therefore taking the time to register for a program or educate yourself online can be helpful in your job hunt. The Internet offers a wealth of options to study for free and is the ideal resource for exploring skills or courses. Additionally, demonstrating your productivity and proactive nature while unemployed will make you look more impressive while applying for jobs. Employers may find these characteristics appealing.

2. Revise your resume

One of the most valuable resources when looking for jobs is a solid CV. A strong CV displays your qualifications for a prospective employer. Since you last updated your resume, you might have gained useful work experience from prior positions or acquired new knowledge. Recalibrating and improving your CV to better reflect you can assist you in putting your profession in perspective.

There are a ton of internet resources available to you if you need assistance writing your CV. You might look at sample resumes and templates that have been successful in the fields you’re applying to, or you can gain some general advice and techniques. There are also online CV builders you can check out to see if they’re a good fit for you, although some of them charge money to access premium features. Alternatives include preconfigured templates in document reader programs.

3. Create a business-focused social media account.

Employers may take notice of you if your social media profiles are written professionally. You can expose yourself to individuals you could work with in the future by being active and establishing connections on any kind of social media. Using these platforms to showcase your achievements and talents is similar to creating an online resume that can enable you to land a job.

4. Reevaluate your budgeting plan.

Readjusting your budget is essential as you go through this extended time of unemployment. Making a budget that works for you might help you immensely because managing finances on a limited budget can be difficult. You can start by figuring out your monthly expenses and income for this purpose. It’s simpler to save in places you might not have previously considered once you have a thorough understanding of your money.

How to get assistance with long-term unemployment

You can take the following actions to lessen the stress of long-term unemployment:

1. Apply for a job seeker’s allowance.

A government program called a jobseeker’s allowance helps individuals who are unemployed but are seeking employment. You may be able to receive as much as £74.70 every week. You must comply with your “Claimant Commitment,” which states that you’re prepared to keep looking for work, whether it is at a Job Center or elsewhere. This program is an excellent way to add a little more financial security as you try to reenter the workforce.

2. Take up a part-time job

The need for a part-time job is always high. We frequently view this employment as a transitory solution; hence, turnover in these roles might be substantial. In addition, part-time work typically offers training and has low experience requirements. Temporary part-time work can help relieve financial burdens if you’re experiencing a period of unemployment during which you’re developing new abilities and modifying your CV.

3. Think about freelancing

There are several online freelancer platforms where you can promote your services if you possess expertise in areas like copywriting, web art, or internet-based work. You showcase your skills, display your portfolio, and post recommendations, just like on a resume. As you get clients and amass a body of work, this might also evolve into your professional profile.

4. Find out about government initiatives

The government has several programs available for people who have been out of work for some time. In several government programs, a greater emphasis is placed on traineeships and apprenticeships to provide valuable work training or experience. The Sector-based Work Academy Program (SWAP) exists to assist job seekers in finding employment in sectors like care, construction, or logistics. You may find several government programs that might apply to you and that could assist you in locating a new career by doing a little online research.


The BLS breaks out the numbers every month in its Employment Situation Summary, making it simple to compute the long-term unemployment rate. Table A-12.7 lists the number of individuals who have been jobless for at least 27 weeks.

The BLS also determines their share of the overall unemployed population. This table provides you with seasonally adjusted data for the previous five months and year over year. Additionally, it enables you to compare the most recent two months with data that hasn’t been adjusted for the season.

Frequently Asked Questions about long-term unemployment

  • What does it mean to be long-term unemployed?

Those who have been jobless for a year or longer are considered to be long-term unemployed. The percentage of these long-term unemployed among all unemployed is represented by the long-term unemployment rate.

  • What kinds of unemployment last for a long time?

Long-term jobless individuals are those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer and have made an active effort to find work in the previous four weeks, according to the BLS. Long-term unemployment is fueled by structural and cyclical unemployment.

  • What happens to long-term unemployed people?

Numerous studies demonstrate a strong connection between chronic unemployment and detrimental consequences for one’s physical and mental health. According to a 2019 BMC Public Health study, people without jobs had a 23.6% higher risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other psychological diseases.

  • How can individuals break the cycle of long-term unemployment and reenter the workforce successfully?

Breaking the cycle of long-term unemployment often requires a multi-faceted approach. It includes staying proactive in the job search, continuously updating skills and qualifications, seeking support from job placement agencies or career counselors, networking, and considering volunteering or part-time work to maintain a sense of purpose and stay connected to the workforce.

  • Are there government programs or resources available to assist individuals facing long-term unemployment?

Yes, many governments offer unemployment benefits, job training programs, and support services for individuals facing long-term unemployment. These resources aim to provide financial assistance, retraining opportunities, job placement assistance, and counseling to help individuals regain employment and financial stability. Specific programs and eligibility criteria may vary by region and country.

These frequently asked questions address strategies for overcoming long-term unemployment and highlight the availability of government programs and resources to support individuals in their job search and reemployment efforts.

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