The chief vic­tims of this shift in busi­ness behavior seem to be the long-​​term unem­ployed (more than six months), as some fas­ci­nating research by econ­o­mists William Dickens and Rand Ghayad of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity sug­gests. By their esti­mates, vir­tu­ally all the reduc­tion in hiring falls on this group, regard­less of their other char­ac­ter­is­tics (age, edu­ca­tion, industry expe­ri­ence). Many firms seem to have con­cluded that the long-​​term job­less are dam­aged goods.

To test this, Ghayad e-​​mailed fake resumes to hun­dreds of firms in response to job post­ings. All the fic­tional can­di­dates were 2005 col­lege grad­u­ates with iden­tical skills; they dif­fered only in their length of unem­ploy­ment (0–12 months) and expe­ri­ence in the hiring industry. The long-​​term unem­ployed received few responses. In many cases, soft­ware fil­ters appar­ently elim­i­nated their appli­ca­tions auto­mat­i­cally. Sim­i­larly, six months of job­less­ness erased the value of industry expe­ri­ence. Employers pre­ferred can­di­dates with less job­less­ness over those who had worked in their industry.

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