Employers Are More Tolerant of Long Jobless Spells When the Economy Is Bad

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Tyler Cowen links today to a new paper that, at first glance, comes to an unsurprising conclusion: the longer you’ve been out of work, the less likely you are to get a job interview. Employers generally figure there’s a reason that someone has been out of work for a long time, so resumes and job applications with long jobless spells usually get tossed aside. This is, obviously, especially bad news during a recession, when lots of people have long periods of unemployment through no fault of their own.

But if you look a little closer, the study (here) has a bit of a silver lining. It turns out that when the economy is in good shape, employers do indeed discriminate against job applicants who have been out of work for a while. That’s the blue line in the chart below, which shows that applicants initially get callbacks about 10% of the time, dropping sharply to only 4% of the time after they’ve been unemployed for eight months.

But take a look at the red line. That’s the callback rate when the economy is bad. The overall callback rate is lower, as you’d expect, but it also doesn’t go down as sharply. It starts out a bit above 5% and then declines to a bit below 4%. That’s still a drop, but not a huge drop. Apparently, when the economy is bad employers really do cut some slack for people who have been out of work for a while. I’m actually a little surprised by this, but it certainly makes sense.

On the other hand, if you’ve been out of work for a year, the state of the economy hardly matters anymore. It’s just really hard to get anyone to give you a chance.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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