By Vicki Needham - 04/03/13 09:19 PM EDT
Making matters worse are the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts and other deficit-reduction policies that are slowing the recovery and resulting in continued public-sector layoffs, according to the report.
The Labor Department is scheduled to release its March jobs report on Friday, which could show that the public sector continues to cut into jobs gains.
African-American workers, who research finds were disproportionately harmed by public-sector job cuts and who are more likely than other workers to live in areas with high unemployment, are also experiencing the highest rates of unemployment and long-term unemployment.
Older unemployed workers experience the highest percentage of long-term unemployment of all age groups, with more than half of unemployed workers 45 and older out of work for longer than 27 weeks.
"With families to support and mortgage payments to make, older unemployed workers have fewer years to make up for lost retirement savings and are likely to instead fall back on already strained disability, medical and income support programs," the report said.
All told, there are 27 million unemployed or underemployed workers in the labor force; this includes not only the unemployed counted by official jobs reports but also the 8 million part-time workers who would rather be working full-time and the 6.8 million discouraged workers who want to work but who have stopped looking altogether, according to the report.
"Such high levels of long-term unemployment this long after a recession are unprecedented," Owens said.
"Instead of this myopic focus on budget deficits, we need our nation’s policymakers to focus and solve the jobs deficit. Failure to do so will mean years of lower productivity, lower tax revenues, lower consumer spending, and higher demand for publicly funded social services for decades to come.”
The average duration of unemployment is up to 37 weeks, nearly 16 weeks longer than during the worst of the 1980s downturn.
Women represent a smaller portion of the long-term unemployed than their overall participation in the workforce, but continuing budget cuts and public-sector job losses since the recession officially ended have unnecessarily slowed their recovery.
The number of long-term unemployed with a college degree increased fivefold during the recession. At this point, there are more than 900,000 long-term unemployed workers with a bachelor’s degree, the report said.