News From Challenger, Gray & Christmas


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Job Market Issues: Long-Term Joblessness, Vacation Recovery


Friday’s employment situation report contained many positive aspects: payrolls saw their biggest gain in four years; job creation was spread across several industries; and while the unemployment rate increased, it was due largely to discouraged job seekers re-entering the labor pool. Of course, not all the news was good. Perhaps, the most worrisome statistic from Friday’s report was continued growth in the number of long-term unemployed. In April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 6.7 million Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. That is about 45 percent of all out-of-work Americans. The biggest problem with this trend is that prolonged unemployment itself becomes a profound obstacle to finding a position. Employers who want candidates with up-to-date skills may be less likely to consider those who have been out of work for an extended period. Meanwhile, it becomes increasingly difficult for unsuccessful and frustrated job seekers to maintain the type of positive outlook and demeanor that is critical to the job search. How can long-term job seekers keep their skills sharp while out of work? Should employers be more accepting of longer work gaps on candidates’ resumes? How can job seekers overcome the stigma associated with prolonged unemployment?


With spring in full bloom and summer just around the corner, workers and employers are gearing up for vacation requests. An 2009 survey found 34 percent of workers did not use all their allowed vacation time, giving up an average of 3 days. Moreover, the number of workers taking extended vacations – 2 weeks are longer – fell from 14 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009. Some of the decline in vacations last year was undoubtedly due to worker concerns about using vacation with job security still in such a precarious state. Will the expected economic recovery lead more workers to use their vacation time in 2010? What other factors might make workers throw away vacation days? With gas prices on the rise, will more workers use vacation time just to avoid commuting and save gas money?