Help for Long-term Unemployed

SPARTANBURG (WSPA) – The July Jobs Report is out and hiring across the country is on the rise. The U.S. Economy added 255,000 jobs last month.

That makes it the second straight month of strong gains, though the unemployment stayed the same at 4.9%.

That’s a rate that’s a historically low. Yet finding work remains extremely difficult for a certain segment of the population, the long-term unemployed.

A recent study found it’s not just employer bias that stops those people from getting jobs.

So we looked into the other factors and what you can do to turn that around.

It’s hard enough getting let go.

“When I got laid off it just wiped me out,” Wille Miller said.

And for people like Willie Miller, it’s even harder when you explain a long gap in your resume.

“They’re like, why you haven’t worked. And they’re holding it against you, and I try to explain to them, I was like, you know, what can you do with somebody laying you off,” Miller said.

New analysis of several studies about unemployment suggests that long-term unemployment plays a limited role in the ability to get hired.

The Liberty Street Economics paper finds the job-finding rate of unemployed people drops by about 50 percent during the first eight months of being unemployed, but then starts to level off.

However, it suggests the reason the unemployed don’t get hired is not because of employer bias but other factors.

Douglas Stephenson, the Project Director of SC Works Upstate, gave us insight.

“They have to overcome those barriers in order to become employed again. It might be willingness to relocate. It might be willingness to take wages that are lower than what they possibly think are self sustainable. Maybe they have to go out and volunteer some place, at the church or a mission or anyplace, just so they have something that they can put on their resume, so it’s not a dead spot on their resume when they do provide it to an employer,” Stephenson said.

The study pinpoints skill loss as another major factor that keeps the unemployed out of work, but there are opportunities for training and many of them are free.

Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department of Social Services, local Community colleges and SC Works all offer free training, and so do employers.

“Coming in the door is free, getting help with job searching, finding out who they need to talk to next. That’s all free. The only thing that costs them is their time,” Stephenson said.

SC works helped Miller revamp his resume from a timeline to a functional format, and the black hole was gone. He now has a part-time job and is looking to take on another.

“It set me back but, you know, I just don’t give up,” Miller said.

Another big factor that can lead to long term unemployment is feeling discouraged and giving up.

Those job training organizations find the people they can really help are the ones who try not to succumb to that.

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