About 357,000 Americans fell off the long-term unemployment rolls in October, as the labor market’s pandemic recovery gained steam.
That decline continues a steady downward trend since the spring. Almost 2 million people have left long-term joblessness since March 2021, the pandemic-era peak.
The improvement comes on the back of an October jobs report that beat expectations and marked an acceleration in job growth from August and September. The economy added 531,000 payrolls last month.
“The positive development that is the decline in the long-term unemployment number I think is indicative of the overall labor market recovery,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at the Indeed Hiring Lab.
“We’re actually seeing employers with very strong demand hiring workers — maybe not at the pace they’d love, but they are making hires,” he added.
In October, 2.3 million people were long-term unemployed, meaning they’ve been out of work at least six months, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
This period is generally a financially precarious one for households — especially as federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed ended after Labor Day. (States typically don’t pay benefits for more than 26 weeks.)
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There were about 1.2 million more people long-term unemployed in October than in February 2020, before the pandemic upended the labor market.
And the share of long-term jobless remains high relative to other periods in modern U.S. history.
Almost 32% of all jobless Americans have been out of work for at least six months. The aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was the only other time since World War II that the share breached 30%.
However, the figure — now at its lowest since September 2020 — has steadily declined from the recent 43.4% peak in March 2021.