You know why unemployment is under 8% today? Because a whole bunch of people have just given up and dropped out of the labor force. They've decided that it's no use looking because no one will hire them.
But is this because employers are discriminating, or because they're somehow different from those who have only been out of work a short time? Economist Rand Gayad decided to do a test. He sent out 4800 fictitious resumes, which differed by length of unemployment, experience, and number of times they'd switched jobs. What he found was that the long-term unemployed were less likely to get called for an interview than people with less experience, but a shorter duration of unemployment.
The economics journalist in me is pleased with the elegance of the experiment. The human being in me is dismayed at the humanitarian disaster underway in our labor markets. No, I'm serious. Short of death or a debilitating terminal disease, long-term unemployment is about the worst thing that can happen to you in the modern world. It's economically awful, socially terrible, and a horrifying blow to your self-esteem and happiness. It cuts you off from the mass of your peers and puts stress on your family, making it likely that further awful things, like divorce or suicide, will be in your near future. When millions and millions of people are stuck in this debilitating trap, we should be sounding forth the alarm.