Some­thing hap­pens when you’ve been out of work for half a year. Employers ignore you com­pletely. That was the con­clu­sion of a new field study by Rand Ghayad, a vis­iting scholar at the Boston Fed and a PhD can­di­date at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, that showed that resumes with oth­er­wise iden­tical qual­i­fi­ca­tions get called back far less if they list six months of unem­ploy­ment. As Matt Ygle­sias points out, the problem is this kind of sta­tis­tical dis­crim­i­na­tion against the long-​​term unem­ployed is pretty rational. Com­pa­nies with a big stack of resumes to get through (which is all of them nowa­days) will still have more than enough strong can­di­dates left over if they screen out the long-​​term job­less, who pre­sum­ably would have gotten a job before if they them­selves were strong can­di­dates. Now, this heuristic makes sense, but it makes less sense in the after­math of the worst crisis in 80 years — and much less sense on a macro level. After all, it makes us col­lec­tively poorer if the long-​​term unem­ployed become unemployable.

 

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