CBO charts changes in long-term unemployed

A larger share of the long-term unemployed this year have been women, college graduates and people ages 55 or older, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Comparing March 2007 to March 2014, the CBO found the percentage of women who have been out of work for a long period has increased by 9 percentage points. 

Similarly, the percentage of college graduates and people over 55 who account for the long-term unemployed has each increased by 7 percentage points.

The CBO also found a larger fraction of the long-term unemployed this year are people who lost their job involuntarily than in March 2007, before the recession hit.


Long-term unemployed is defined as people who have been out of work for more than half a year.

Over the last seven years, the CBO says people who are male, young, unmarried, black and without a college education have accounted for more of the long-term unemployed.

The study comes after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked the budget office to compare the characteristics of the long-term unemployed between the two periods.

According to the CBO, in March, 3.9 million people were out of work for more than 26 weeks. That’s much higher than the 1.3 million who were in the same boat in March 2007. 

The long-term unemployment rate during the period was the highest in the second quarter of 2010, at 4.3 percent. By March 2014, it was 2.4 percent. The CBO said the rate has fallen further to 1.9 percent in the third quarter of this year — just a percentage point higher than the average from 2001 to 2007. 

The CBO conducted the study based on the Census Bureau’s Current Population Surveys conducted in March 2007 and March 2014.