In late February, when Allen Kantorowitz was furloughed from his job as sales and marketing director for a hotel group in Manhattan because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he figured he’d be sidelined for two or three months.
After all, Kantorowitz, 59, has decades of experience in hospitality and tourism, including high-level positions at hotels and convention bureaus in New York City and its suburbs. Even if the lodging industry were decimated, Kantorowitz surely would find a sales managing job in another sector.
Nine months later, the Fort Lee, New Jersey, resident is still fervently job-hunting. And growing increasingly jittery.
“I’m putting more and more pressure on myself to not go more than a year” without work, he says, because of both the effect on his finances and the widening gap on his resume. “At some point, it’s going to get on the scarier side.”
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As the health crisis drags on, a growing share of the workers it has idled have been jobless six months or longer, placing them among the ranks of the long-term unemployed. In November, 3.9 million Americans were unemployed for at least 27 weeks, up from 3.6 million in September and the most since November 2013. People in that category made up 37% of the nation’s unemployed.
Skills decline, stigma grows
In February, just before the crisis exploded in the U.S., such extended unemployment stood at a 12-year low of 1.1 million. The November employment report, released early Friday, showed a disappointing 245,000 job gains, much lower than many expectations.
Millions more could become long-term unemployed over the next few weeks or months. COVID-19 cases are hitting new records amid a bleak winter outlook and some states are reinstating business constraints. Unemployment benefits for 12 million Americans are set to expire at the end of the month. And the prospect of Congress breaking a deadlock in the coming weeks by passing another relief package for jobless Americans and struggling businesses remains uncertain.
Historically, the long-term unemployed have a much tougher time finding jobs than those sidelined for shorter spells. Skills erode over time, the theory goes, and extended unemployment may carry a stigma. That means a large group of Americans may have less income and spending power for years, even after the pandemic and its short-term economic effects are over.
Besides the financial fallout for affected households, there’s a broader toll for the economy, whose post-pandemic scars will also include more than 100,000 business closures.
The long-term unemployed are “not working, they’re not spending,” says Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
And, he says, “A smaller…
Go to the news source: Is chronic unemployment a stigma even during a pandemic?