Structural Unemployment: The Average Unemployed American Looks For A Job For 20 Weeks Before Giving Up

Tyler Durden's picture

According to a just released report by the BLS, the average unemployed American looked for a job for about 5 months, or 20 weeks, before giving up in 2010. This is a two and a half times extension in the period of disenchantment over the past 3 years, when it took just 8.5 week for the unemployed to give up as recently as 2007. Gradually the feeling of entitlement in America's labor pool seems to be deflating. Alas, it also means that the labor force participation, which continues to be at a 25 year low, will likely not return to recent highs as more and more people are now unemployed for longer, and thus lose marketable employment skills, meaning that the current jump in unemployment is, as many have feared, entirely structural and there is nothing cyclical about it. Additionally, the lucky unemployed succeeded in finding a job in about 10 weeks in 2010, a doubling from 2007's median 5 week period of successful job searching. The issue however is that in May 6.2 million had been out of work for more than six months and more than 4 million haven’t work in more than a year. These are people who are now effectively pushed out of the labor force. Bottom line: perhaps the Fed should just give up on its maximum employment mandate which it now appears to be a complete failure, and just focus on generating hyperinflation which alas will soon be the only way out of the complete disaster America will find itself in in under a year when total US debt is about 120% of GDP.

Key part from the BLS:

By the end of 2010, the median number of weeks jobseekers had been unemployed in the month prior to finding work was a little more than 10 weeks. In contrast, prior to the start of the recent recession in 2007, the
median was 5 weeks. Unemployment duration also increased among those who
eventually quit looking and left the labor force. Unemployed
individuals were jobless for about 20 weeks in 2010 before giving up
their job search and leaving the labor force. Whereas in 2007, those who
were not successful in their job search had been unemployed for about
8.5 weeks before leaving the labor force.

The recent recession has had a profound effect on the length of successful job search. The table
shows the distribution of transitions from unemployment to employment
by duration of unemployment (in weeks). From 1994 through 2008, roughly
half of all unemployed jobseekers found jobs within 5 weeks. In 2007,
for example, 49 percent of those who were unemployed in the prior month
and employed in the subsequent month had been jobless for less than 5
weeks. During the same year, less than 3 percent of the unemployed who
found work had been jobless for more than 52 weeks. In stark contrast,
11 percent of transitions from unemployment to employment exceeded a
year in 2010, and only 34 percent lasted less than 5 weeks.

And the two charts which confirm the seriousness of the situation, posted previously on Zero Hedge:


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
djsmps's picture

I find it hard to swallow this whole argument of unemployed people giving up or leaving the workforce. Where do they go? How do they survive and eat? I didn't have work for two years and I never stopped looking.

MarketTruth's picture

They eat via JP Morgan distributed food stamps (SNAP).

Besides, why work when the average American thinks, "Obama Is Going To Pay For My Gas And Mortgage!!!"

dark pools of soros's picture

yes and more time to create that reality tv pilot

camaro68ss's picture

o its just a little bump in the road to recovery BITCHEZ!



PY-129-20's picture

They do a Norm Petersen.

Vendetta's picture

yeah, it is so lucrative for the unemployed because the 'benefits' are so fantastic compared to actually working /sarc off

HungrySeagull's picture

They can be damn good money versus Minimum wage. I think it was 260 a week versus 144 after taxes and 40 hours a week some years ago.

I had a Employer who we worked from April 20 to Sept 20 and then sit through the cold winters at home on unemployment ready to go in the spring. Best damn employer ever, even though the Blacktop paving in a dump truck was a bitch.


When you make enough to pay off your debts and live on very little (Our total utilities is cheaper than average rent here in my state by at least half to 2/3) you can get away with a part time work that no unemployed full timer in debt with mortgage will take.

TheTmfreak's picture

Likely this is done on some sort of polling which depending on the factors involved is whether or not you get lumped into the "no longer looking" category. I would question the variables used to determine that.


Also people probably just move in and live with family members. Who knows how many of these listed were youth out of college just moving in with family.

Hugh G Rection's picture

Use your unemployment bene's/savings and move to Vegas.  Read every Brunson and Skalansky book on hold em, then grind out a living at the 20-40 limit tables.  I have more confidence in the fairness of the Las Vegas casino, than the casino of Wall St.

PhattyBuoy's picture

U.S. Deals Blow to Online-Poker Players
"poker is a hard way to make an easy living" ...

Federal authorities in New York have frozen or seized bank accounts worth $34 million belonging to 27,000 online poker players, according to representatives for the players and account holders.

The accounts are managed by Allied Systems Inc., and Account Services, which handle cash for popular online poker sites, including Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker.

HungrySeagull's picture

Fuck it. If they do run it again next time legally in the USA. I will sit right here on my fat ass playing nickel poker and accumulate a small living. Beats unemployment and temp work.

SheepDog-One's picture

Moving back in with mom and pops, just like the new college grads who have absolutely no jobs to go to. 

Kyron95131's picture

that's been a trend for last 5+ years previous to the "collapse"

you'd be amazed at the amount of 30 some thing's that have yet to leave their house not because of lack of moxy, more so opportunity.

Clueless Economist's picture

The 2 adult slugs living acroos the street from me with Daddy are pushing 40

Kyron95131's picture

welcome to the new status quo!

"family farm" esc mentality without the farm or the hand to mouth know-how.. or the farm!

oh what an equation for disaster...

TruthInSunshine's picture

I drove through a...ahem...suspect area of town recently on some bidness.

Anyways, I never saw so many clearly related people come out of the same small home in such a short period of time in my life.

It was like that scene from Saving Private Ryan, where the Germans pile out of that wounded half-track.

HungrySeagull's picture

Wait until the old World War two 4 story multi generational houses with basements come back into Style. I think we were 5 generations there at one point in ours. And it was normal. Once you married, you got the fuck out or thrown out.

shazbotz's picture

with over 44 million American's on food stamps and homeless camps all over every major city and town its not hard to see where the people are. Go on Youtube and search "homeless camp" and sort by upload date.




Sizzurp's picture

Maybe we could afford to hire employees that actually produced something if we weren't so busy paying for gov. employees shuffling papers around doing nothing.

dark pools of soros's picture

produce what??  that's the problem..  the scam is that we need any of this stuff let alone MORE of it..



ursus.peracto's picture

One thing comes to mind.




HungrySeagull's picture

One place in Oklahoma makes em. Between that and Bingo you should make out well.


Sizzurp's picture

There are always things that need to be produced, things that are needed, things that are essential.  What we don't need is a burdensome and enormously expensive bloated gov. that produces nothing but debt.

Spastica Rex's picture

What we need is:


  • more ipads
  • better pickup trucks
  • shinier granite countertops
  • more luxurious ocean cruises
  • prettier handbags
  • faster sports cars
  • bigger sports stadiums
  • more channels on cable TV
  • more 3D movies
  • tastier wine
  • more low-volume botique whiskey
  • more drugs
  • better insurance


I know I've missed a bunch of stuff, but isn't this what we desire and produce? Isn't this what our economy does?



TruthInSunshine's picture

Money for nothing and chicks for free.

Like the TBTF get.

Temporalist's picture

How could you leave out shoes and $6 coffee?

HungrySeagull's picture

You sicken me with that list of unnecessary things. We are still running off a late 70's countertop and carpets from the same time when the house was built.


Make that 9.40 Folgers Coffee. We just bought 12 of them to hedge against inflation the following year.

GubbermintWorker's picture



I resemble that remark!

Vendetta's picture

who needs employees to produce something when we have slave wage labor in china/india to do it?  /snark

Hugh G Rection's picture

I gave up after 2 weeks... ahead of the curve baby!

JailBank's picture

Not so bad if you consider the 99 weeks of unemployment.

buzzsaw99's picture

My last decent job was in 2005. I could have gotten any number of jobs since then but I am not interested in working with a-holz no mo.

topcallingtroll's picture

I like you buzz,

but you wouldn't like working for me!

This tends to confirm in my mind that unemployment is a choice for most unemployed.

buzzsaw99's picture

I like you too but you probably couldn't afford me anyway.

topcallingtroll's picture

If you generate a positive return I can afford whatever it takes!

buzzsaw99's picture

When I shake the money tree these days I collect everything that falls for myself alone.

TruthInSunshine's picture

If you generate a positive return I can afford whatever it takes!


That has nothing to do with it. You don't want him anywhere near your wife/girlfriend/daughters (assuming they are of age or he can plausibly deny he didn't know they weren't).

buzzsaw99's picture

that's eerie. do you know me? lol

TruthInSunshine's picture

I know your kind.

Lock up the whiskey and women.

SheepDog-One's picture

Sure topcall, plenty of jobs next time McDonalds is hiring. Get in line.

HungrySeagull's picture

There is no damn way I will do that. Years ago I ran the burger stove. I got abused from the assembly boys and harrassed by the manager and chased by the dishwasher as well as cashiers bitching at me because customers dont like the burgers.

I started cooking them all 40 seconds PAST the automatic timer and no one bitched anymore except that the faggot assembly boys rubbing butts bitch at me for making too damn many burgers.

Hell, I QUIT going TO mcdonalds TO buy food. The dimwit cashiers are not interested in you or your order. They are over tired, sleep fatiqued and otherwise very stupid as to require a VERY simple set of words or numbers. ANY special orders make them angry.


CHRIST.... how does a McDonalds ever survive on such shit system?


Hell I even hauled BEEF TO a Mc Donalds Frozen pre-made patty factory and GOT abused from the workers for being a half hour early. That was in Oklahoma.

Maybe I get a damn job delivering TO a mcdonalds and just kick the shit onto the trashy, gooey and vomit puddled parking lot around the cars for them to shove into the store.


And dont get me started when I watch the sweet Pollyanna at 16 work the counter being hit on by people of all ages including the grump grampa in the morning all day every day. They turn into 40 year old hellcats very quickly with a attitude to match before 17th birthday.


And you wonder why proper selection of women is a challenge.


Wanna know how I quit?


I waited until the ENTIRE STAFF was in a VERY big chinese firedrill FRENZY on a VERY busy FRIDAY night. Everyone was scrambling to feed dozens of people inside, tens outside and orders stacking up everywhere.

One little bitchy statement from a assembler who has not dropped a pair yet... I took the stove off the wall. Tossed the cooking burgers into the trash, hefted a 30 pound box of fresh frozen patties all frozed together into one giant pie and threw it onto the assembler telling that little wuss...


YOU do it if you know what your mouth is good for you fucking twat. And stormed out.

As it stood, the manager was not availible and no one else knew how to run the stove. Two customers had to stop eating and step in to cook.

Love it.


Oh at the front door I was stopped by a large customer. And he said dont you dare quit and get back in there.

I told him that little slim jim over there holding the box of beef is now the new burger cooker.

My other hand was on the .45



It's been decades. And I suppose that tiny little slim jim shit assembler is now middle management pulling down a 6 figure salary at burger university or something.

Rynak's picture

Main reason why i'm a freelancer. Under no circumstances do i want to work as employee in the current economy. Wages are shit, treatment is shit, contract conditions are shit. The race to the bottom has resulted in an employment market, that is only attractive to employers (and at least for small and midsized business, the consequences are even unattractive to them).

serotonindumptruck's picture

Typical job posting announcement.

Unemployed need not apply.

topcallingtroll's picture

Do you think it is unethical for someone to maximize their unemployment benefits?

Does that perhaps show a negative attitude toward work?  A tendency to milk the system for personal advantage?

Kyron95131's picture

well at least your name pretty much gives people a prelude to the consistency replies.

topcallingtroll's picture

Look I would do the same thing if I had a shitty job and no prospects for anything but another shitty job.  I would maximize my unemployment benefits and take a sabbatical.  I am no better than anyone else.

However as a once and future employer I want people who have a different attitude than that.  I would never hire someone like me.

Kyron95131's picture

well at least your an honest hypocrite.

get rid of the honesty aspect of your persona and your CEO material.