CRF Blog

Five myths about the unemployed

by Bill Hayes

The Washington Post, as part of its Five Myths series, looks at Five myths about the unemployed.

5. Discouraged workers drop out of the labor force and never return.

A discouraged worker is someone who isn’t looking for work because he or she thinks no jobs are available. Like everyone else, when the economy improves, more of them look for jobs again. Their active job searches paradoxically can raise the unemployment rate for a while, even though the economy is improving. This is because discouraged workers are not considered part of the labor force, while those looking for jobs are counted as “unemployed.”

During periods of economic expansion, the number of discouraged workers falls, as it has over the past year. There were 979,000 discouraged workers in November, a drop of 10.7 percent from November 2011.

We are stuck in a slow recovery. Congress needs to extend emergency benefits again, but most important, it needs to enact more economic stimulus to help create jobs That will drive down our excessively high unemployment rates. [more]