It is still hard — illogically hard — for people like Johnson to get hired. There’s no evidence that spending months unemployed actually damages a worker’s future job performance. So, researchers wondered, as the labor market began to improve, why were so many people still out of work for so long?
The answer, they found, is psychological bias. Social stigmas stand between jobs and the jobless. Employers assume a fragmented work history indicates incompetence, according to a recent University of California Santa Barbara study. Last year, a Northeastern University team sent out thousands of fake resumes featuring six-month employment gaps to gauge employer response; they were routinely ignored.
Meanwhile, repeatedly rejected job seekers fear their own value is diminishing, which can affect interview performance and eagerness to keep trying. The problem compounds. The cycle continues.