Nearly half of unemployed Americans ‘have completely given up’ on looking for work
by Ben Bullard
Nearly 50 percent of Americans who are in the labor force, but remain unemployed, have abandoned all attempts at finding a job.
That’s the conclusion of a new Harris poll of 1,500 unemployed Americans, which found that 47 percent have, according to the poll summary, “completely given up” looking for work.
“The economy is giving the unemployed reasons to quit looking for work,” it continues:
•47 percent agree with the statement, “I’ve completely given up on looking for a job.” (7 percent said they “agree completely,” 7 percent “agree a lot,” 15 percent “agree somewhat,” and 18 percent “agree a little.”
•60 percent say looking for work has been harder than expected. 10 percent say it’s been easier than expected.
•Nevertheless, 91 percent agree with the statement, “I’m hopeful that I will find a job I really want in the next six months.”
“After searching for four years and being unsuccessful, I am tired of trying,” said one respondent.
In keeping with its contention that the overall economy is just too weak to field employment opportunities that accommodate America’s labor force, a large bloc of respondents said there simply aren’t any jobs available — and they’ve been looking.
“People want to find work, but increasingly many people say there is little they can do to find it,” the poll states. “When asked what is holding them back from finding a job, 46 percent say there are no available jobs.”
On the other hand, the poll found that only 9 percent of those surveyed had spent “more than 31 hours” looking for work in the week immediately preceding the poll. Another 36 percent said they spent “5 hours or fewer.” In addition, many unemployed people are reluctant to move in the hope of improving their chances for employment:
•44 percent are “not at all willing” to relocate to a new city/ town for a job. 60 percent are “not at all willing” to move to another state to find work.
•64 percent have no plans to go back to school to make them more marketable. 7 percent are currently enrolled in classes, and 6 percent have already attended classes or earned a new degree.
So there may be a mixed message here: The present economy truly is challenging for many earnest and qualified job seekers, yet many others exhibit a languid disposition about their own agency in improving their employment opportunities. The poll appears to affirm that notion under a section titled “Unemployment Compensation is a Helping Hand — and a Holding Pattern.”
Harris found that, while only 20 percent of the respondents reported receiving some form of unemployment compensation, the vast majority of that group admitted they would try much harder to find work if their benefits ran out.
“[I]n a response that raises issues about whether unemployment compensation should be extended or allowed to run out, 82 percent of those receiving benefits said if their unemployment compensation were to run out prior to their finding a job, they would ‘search harder and wider for a job,'” according to the report.