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2/4/21: U.S. Duration of Unemployment

Summary:
One of the America's Scariest Charts - a long-term running issue I have been highlighting for a number of years now - is roaring back to prominence as Covid19 pandemic crisis continues to impact U.S. labor markets across virtually all possible metrics of health.Here it is: the average duration of unemployment spells:Unemployment spells become short at the start of the recession as new vintage unemployed join the ranks of long term unemployed. As the recovery sets in, unemployment duration starts to take into the account a different and changing mix of those on unemployment: the share of total unemployed who are short-term unemployed shrinks, the share of the longer term unemployed rises. Secularly, however, virtually every past recession since 1970s on has resulted in a longterm increase

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One of the America's Scariest Charts - a long-term running issue I have been highlighting for a number of years now - is roaring back to prominence as Covid19 pandemic crisis continues to impact U.S. labor markets across virtually all possible metrics of health.


Here it is: the average duration of unemployment spells:

2/4/21: U.S. Duration of Unemployment

Unemployment spells become short at the start of the recession as new vintage unemployed join the ranks of long term unemployed. As the recovery sets in, unemployment duration starts to take into the account a different and changing mix of those on unemployment: the share of total unemployed who are short-term unemployed shrinks, the share of the longer term unemployed rises. Secularly, however, virtually every past recession since 1970s on has resulted in a longterm increase in average duration of unemployment during the recovery phase of the business cycle. In other words, the longer term unemployed became even longer-term unemployed. And now, the Covid19 pandemic joins the line of past recessions with continuing on this trend. 

Chart next compares each recession and subsequent recovery period since the end of the WW2 through current:

2/4/21: U.S. Duration of Unemployment

Based on the average duration of unemployment, we are now (in the Covid19 pandemic recession) are tracking the worst recession on record: the Great Recession. Weeks ahead will tell us, if indeed this will be a new record-breaking recession, beating the length of average unemployment spell established in the Great Recession. But for now, with all the recovery going around, the unemployed are becoming longer and longer-term unemployed.

Not exactly a picture of robust health being restored in the U.S. labor markets.

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