At the moment, there are roughly 13.9 million unemployed workers in the United States. Of those, 42.4 percent of them have been out of work for more than six months — a new postwar record for the United States. We should be especially worried about this group of long-term unemployed workers, because research shows that the longer they go jobless, the more likely it is that they’ll lose their skills, that companies will refuse to hire them, and that they’ll drop out of the workforce entirely. And that, in turn, can have deeper implications for the country as a whole.


Job seekers at a career expo in Las Colinas, Texas. (LM Otero/AP)

Yet very few policymakers have actually noticed. “Washington, dominated by a free-market consensus ever since President Reagan’s era, has ignored that 30-year pattern,” writes Hirsh. “Partly as a result, reams of data show that America’s middle class has been shrinking.”Go read his piece for some striking examples of towns around the country that have been hollowed out as a result of pervasive long-term unemployment.