Logic would suggest that the longer someone's out of work, the more urgent the job search will become. But that may not be the way it works, according to a study by Princeton economist Alan Krueger. From Real Time Economics:
Workers were surveyed weekly for 12 weeks -- with those who had been out of work 60 weeks or longer at the start of the survey tracked for an additional 12 weeks. Most economic models say the amount of time spent job hunting should be steady -- or rise -- the longer a worker is unemployed, in part because they know they're nearing the exhaustion of jobless benefits. But the researchers found the opposite: Workers cut the time they spent job hunting by about a third over the initial 12 week period. The economists posit that workers may run out of suitable jobs to apply for -- or could simply get more discouraged the longer they are on the hunt.
This won't exactly help efforts to extend unemployment benefits when Congress returns from its recess next week. Opponents of an extension say that unemployment should be a short-term safety net rather than a long-term entitlement program - and that those who have been without a job for 99 weeks have reached their limit. Many economists oppose that view, maintaining that the extension of benefits allows those out of work to purchase goods and services that will aid in the recovery. Besides, the ranks of the long-term unemployed have been growing. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The number of persons jobless for a year or more rose from 645,000 in the second quarter of 2007 to 4.5 million in the second quarter of 2010. The group's share of total unemployment jumped from 9.5 percent to a record high of 30.9 percent. As a share of the labor force, the proportion jobless for a year or longer rose from 0.4 percent in the second quarter of 2007 to 2.9 percent in the second quarter of 2010.