At Risk: The Impact of Long Term Unemployment
Life + Money

At Risk: The Impact of Long Term Unemployment

Men hit hardest, suffering 75 percent of job losses

Being axed from a job is hard enough, but being unemployed for over six months can be devastating, not only to finances, but to mental health: relationships are tested, life choices are questioned, egos are crushed.  As of June 2010, nearly half of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or longer—the largest portion since World War II. 

According to a Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday, 46 percent of those unemployed for over six months say their economic situation has strained their family relationships, and 43 percent say they have lost touch with close friends.

Other evidence supports this. Divorces are up as well as marriage counseling. Prescriptions for antidepressants are up, and so is insomnia. Nearly half of the unemployed surveyed—both short-term and long-term—said they’ve had difficulty sleeping. The long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely as those who have been unemployed less than three months to seek professional help for depression or other emotional issues. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, calls were up 27 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Men are taking the brunt of it. Of those surveyed by Pew, 60 percent of the chronically unemployed were male. Other reports show that men have suffered nearly 75 percent of the job losses. Most of these are in typically male-dominated fields: manufacturing, real estate and construction. 
The reversal in who brings home the paycheck could be one reason relationships are strained.

Time on Their Side
What the unemployed do have is time:  Time to question their goals, their direction and their career. Over 40 percent of those surveyed say the recession could prevent them from reaching their long-term career goals, and over 70 percent say they have already changed their career paths, or have seriously considered doing so.

There is even more depressing news. When they’re finally hired, 30 percent of the long-term unemployed say their new job is worse than the one they lost, compared to 16 percent of those who were unemployed for less than six months.

But the survey did reveal a few nuggets of good news: 75 percent of the unemployed said they were spending more time with their families, and more than two-thirds said they were doing more household chores or helping with child care. That’s something to cheer up the spouses of the unemployed everywhere.