High Unemployment: Cyclical or Structural?

Unemployment is edging down, but the fraction of the unemployed who have been idle more than a year remains near a record high. In the first three months of the year about 30% of the unemployed – more than 3.9 million people – had been jobless for a year or longer. Before the Great Recession the post-war record for long-term unemployment was set in Ronald Reagan’s first term. Even at the worst stage of that slump, however, only about 14% of the unemployed were out of work for more than a year.

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