Sunday, April 14, 2013

Got It Right The First Time

The long-term unemployed are practically unemployable in this economy.

Let's be clear. Ghayad's field study shows employers discriminate against the long-term unemployed. All of the fake resumes he sent out were basically identical. But firms ignored the ones from people who'd been out of work for six months or longer -- even when they had better credentials. Employers look at how long you've been unemployed as a better proxy for skills than anything else on your resume. In other words, more jobs-training probably won't help the long-term unemployed all that much. Even a stronger economy will only help them years in the future, rather than many years in the future.

It's time for the government to start hiring the long-term unemployed. Or, at the least, start giving employers tax incentives to hire the long-term unemployed. The worst possible outcome for all of us is if the long-term unemployed become unemployable. That would permanently reduce our productive capacity.

Only employers who pay people lots of money to spend their days figuring out how to take advantage of tax incentives take advantage of tax incentives. We need to pay people to do stuff. There is no shortage of useful stuff to be done.