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Unemployment

How Long Does Unemployment Last?

The average length of unemployment in 2005, according to Employment and Earnings, was 18.4 weeks, down from 19.6 weeks in 2004, but up from 13.2 weeks in 2001. The median duration of unemployment was 8.9 weeks. In 2005, 2.7 million (35.1%) of the nation's 7.6 million unemployed workers had been unemployed for less than five weeks, and 2.3 million (30.4%) had been out of work for five to fourteen weeks. About 2.6 million unemployed workers (34.5%) had been out of work for fifteen weeks or more, with 1.1 million (14.9% of all unemployed people) out of work fifteen to twenty-six weeks, and 1.5 million (19.6%) unemployed for twenty-seven weeks or more. (See Table 3.6.)

Gender and Age

Men tended to stay unemployed somewhat longer (an average of 19.1 weeks) than women (17.6 weeks) in 2005, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Generally, the older the job seeker, the longer it took to find TABLE 3.2 Over-the-year change in unemployment rates by state, December 2004–December 2005 "Over-the-Year Change in Unemployment Rates for States Monthly Rankings Seasonally Adjusted," in Regional and State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly), U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 22, 2005, http://www.bls.gov/web/laumstch.htm (accessed January 10, 2006)work. Because better-paying jobs usually take longer to find, men forty-five years and older, who were more likely to be seeking higher-paying employment than either women or younger people, remained unemployed longer. Young men and women aged sixteen to nineteen years old were unemployed an average of 12.5 weeks and 10.1 weeks, respectively, compared with 23.9 weeks for men and 23.8 weeks for women who were aged fifty-five to sixty-four. (See Table 3.6.)

TABLE 3.2
Over-the-year change in unemployment rates by state, December 2004–December 2005
Rank State Dec. 2004 rate Dec. 2005* rate Change
*Preliminary.
Note: Rates shown are a percentage of the labor force. Data refer to place of residence. Estimates for the latest month are revised the following month, and at least 3 years of estimates are subject to revision at the end of the year, to incorporate updated inputs and reestimation.
SOURCE: "Over-the-Year Change in Unemployment Rates for States Monthly Rankings Seasonally Adjusted," in Regional and State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly), U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 22, 2005, http://www.bls.gov/web/laumstch.htm (accessed January 10, 2006)
1 District of Columbia 8.8 6.0 −2.8
2 Alabama 5.3 3.5 −1.8
3 Florida 4.6 3.3 −1.3
3 Oregon 7.0 5.7 −1.3
5 Utah 5.0 3.8 −1.2
6 Arkansas 5.6 4.5 −1.1
7 Idaho 4.4 3.4 −1.0
8 California 6.0 5.1 −0.9
9 Colorado 5.4 4.6 −0.8
9 Michigan 7.5 6.7 −0.8
9 New Mexico 5.6 4.8 −0.8
9 Pennsylvania 5.7 4.9 −0.8
9 Texas 5.9 5.1 −0.8
14 Alaska 7.6 6.9 −0.7
14 Montana 4.4 3.7 −0.7
16 Missouri 5.7 5.1 −0.6
16 Washington 5.9 5.3 −0.6
18 Illinois 6.0 5.5 −0.5
18 Iowa 5.0 4.5 −0.5
18 Minnesota 4.6 4.1 −0.5
18 New York 5.6 5.1 −0.5
18 Wyoming 3.7 3.2 −0.5
23 Kansas 5.3 4.9 −0.4
23 North Carolina 5.3 4.9 −0.4
23 Oklahoma 4.5 4.1 −0.4
26 Hawaii 3.0 2.7 −0.3
26 North Dakota 3.6 3.3 −0.3
28 Maryland 4.1 3.9 −0.2
28 Nevada 4.0 3.8 −0.2
28 Ohio 6.1 5.9 −0.2
28 Virginia 3.5 3.3 −0.2
28 West Virginia 4.9 4.7 −0.2
33 Nebraska 3.8 3.7 −0.1
34 Vermont 3.6 3.6 0.0
35 Arizona 4.5 4.6 0.1
35 New Hampshire 3.4 3.5 0.1
35 South Carolina 6.9 7.0 0.1
35 Tennessee 5.3 5.4 0.1
35 Wisconsin 4.7 4.8 0.1
40 Delaware 4.2 4.4 0.2
40 Maine 4.6 4.8 0.2
40 Massachusetts 4.7 4.9 0.2
43 Connecticut 4.5 4.8 0.3
43 Indiana 5.2 5.5 0.3
45 Georgia 4.8 5.2 0.4
45 Rhode Island 4.8 5.2 0.4
45 South Dakota 3.5 3.9 0.4
48 New Jersey 4.2 4.7 0.5
49 Louisiana 5.7 6.4 0.7
50 Kentucky 4.7 6.3 1.6
51 Mississippi 6.7 9.9 3.2

Race and Ethnicity

Workers of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity were unemployed for an average of sixteen weeks in 2005, according to Employment and Earnings. This was the lowest figure of any racial or ethnic group, with whites out of work an average of 16.9 weeks, African-American workers unemployed for 22.6 weeks, and Asians unemployed the longest at an average of 23.3 weeks. Within these racial and ethnic groups, men tended to remain unemployed longer than women, except for those of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, with women out of work an average of 16.3 weeks while the men returned to work in 15.7 weeks. (See Table 3.6.)

Marital Status

Widowed, divorced, or separated women were unemployed somewhat longer (19.6 weeks) in 2005 than those who had never been married (16.3 weeks) or those who were living with their spouses (18.1 weeks). Married men living with their wives (19.9 weeks) and those who were widowed, divorced, or separated (23 weeks) were out of work longer than men who had never been married (17.7 weeks). (See Table 3.6.)

Occupations

In 2005, 602,000 of those unemployed in service occupations were out of work less than five weeks (37.9% of the total number of unemployed in this sector), and 511,000 people (32.2%) were still looking for work after fifteen weeks. Of those seeking managerial and professional positions, 385,000 were unemployed less than five weeks (representing 32.8% of the unemployed in this sector), and 436,000 (37.2%) still lacked jobs after fifteen weeks. (See Table 3.7.)

Workers in managerial and professional occupations had the longest average duration of unemployment (20.9 weeks). Production workers had an average duration of 19.5 weeks of unemployment; sales and office occupations workers were out of work for an average of eighteen weeks; and employees in service occupations endured unemployment for an average of 17.2 weeks. (See Table 3.7.)

Industry

During 2005, 279,000 construction workers (38.4% of the unemployed workers in this sector), 86,000 transportation and utilities laborers (33.6% of the sector), and 96,000 financial activities workers (34.5% of the sector) TABLE 3.3 Unemployed persons by demographic characteristics, 2004–2005 "24. Unemployed Persons by Marital Status, Race, Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity, Age, and Sex" in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat24.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)found employment within five weeks of becoming jobless After fifteen weeks, 216,000 construction workers still needed jobs (29.8% of the sector). Construction workers were out of work an average of 15.5 weeks. Workers in the information sector had the longest average duration of unemployment in 2005 (23.3 weeks), followed by durable goods maunfacturing workers (22.7 weeks). The maunfacturing labor force as a whole took an average of 21.7 weeks to find a job. Of manufacturing workers, 250,000 (30.7% of the sector) were unemployefd for less than five weeks, and 326,000 (35.6% of the sector) were unemployed more than fifteen weeks. (See Table 3.7.)

TABLE 3.3
Unemployed persons by demographic characteristics, 2004–05
Marital status, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and age Men Women
Thousands of persons Unemployment rates Thousands of persons Unemployment rates
2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005
Note: Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. In addition, persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race and, therefore, are classified by ethnicity as well as by race.
SOURCE: "24. Unemployed Persons by Marital Status, Race, Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity, Age, and Sex" in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat24.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)
   Total, 16 years and over 4,456 4,059 5.6 5.1 3,694 3,531 5.4 5.1
Married, spouse present 1,466 1,287 3.1 2.8 1,244 1,168 3.5 3.3
Widowed, divorced, or separated 608 563 6.3 5.6 828 768 5.9 5.4
Single (never married) 2,381 2,209 10.5 9.5 1,621 1,595 8.7 8.3
White, 16 years and over 3,282 2,931 5.0 4.4 2,565 2,419 4.7 4.4
Married, spouse present 1,161 1,011 2.9 2.5 996 922 3.3 3.0
Widowed, divorced, or separated 466 415 5.9 5.0 600 548 5.5 4.9
Single (never married) 1,655 1,505 9.1 8.2 969 949 7.1 6.8
Black or African American, 16 years and over 860 844 11.1 10.5 868 856 9.8 9.5
Married, spouse present 200 177 5.6 5.1 149 144 5.3 5.2
Widowed, divorced, or separated 104 119 8.9 9.5 179 166 7.8 7.3
Single (never married) 556 548 18.2 16.9 540 546 14.4 13.9
Asian, 16 years and over 153 141 4.5 4.0 124 118 4.3 3.9
Married, spouse present 64 61 2.9 2.7 62 62 3.4 3.3
Widowed, divorced, or separated 14 11 5.8 3.6 24 23 6.3 5.5
Single (never married) 75 68 7.8 7.2 39 32 5.6 4.5
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 16 years and over 755 647 6.5 5.4 587 544 7.6 6.9
Married, spouse present 275 231 4.4 3.6 228 202 6.2 5.4
Widowed, divorced, or separated 85 69 5.8 4.5 130 103 7.9 6.2
Single (never married) 394 347 10.3 8.7 229 239 9.6 9.8
    Total, 25 years and over 2,980 2,617 4.4 3.8 2,531 2,453 4.4 4.2
Married, spouse present 1,399 1,232 3.1 2.7 1,139 1,071 3.3 3.1
Widowed, divorced, or separated 584 538 6.2 5.5 781 730 5.7 5.3
Single (never married) 997 848 8.0 6.6 611 651 6.3 6.4
White, 25 years and over 2,225 1,929 3.9 3.4 1,773 1,699 3.8 3.6
Married, spouse present 1,108 966 2.8 2.5 911 845 3.1 2.9
Widowed, divorced, or separated 447 395 5.7 4.9 563 519 5.3 4.8
Single (never married) 670 567 7.0 5.7 299 335 4.6 4.9
Black or African American, 25 years and over 545 507 8.4 7.6 589 568 7.9 7.5
Married, spouse present 191 170 5.5 5.0 141 133 5.2 4.9
Widowed, divorced, or separated 101 113 8.8 9.2 172 160 7.7 7.2
Single (never married) 253 223 13.5 11.1 276 275 11.1 10.4
Asian, 25 years and over 117 102 3.9 3.3 93 102 3.7 3.8
Married, spouse present 63 61 2.9 2.7 55 60 3.1 3.3
Widowed, divorced, or separated 13 11 5.7 3.6 21 23 5.9 5.5
Single (never married) 41 30 6.6 5.0 17 19 4.2 4.5
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 16 years and over 477 401 5.1 4.1 408 372 6.6 5.8
Married, spouse present 253 214 4.2 3.5 202 174 5.9 5.0
Widowed, divorced, or separated 75 63 5.5 4.4 121 98 7.8 6.1
Single (never married) 149 124 7.4 5.7 84 99 6.8 7.7

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