More than six years after the Great Recession technically ended, there are still about two million Americans who are out of work and have been trying to find a job for at least 27 weeks. With businesses reluctant to hire someone with a large gap in their resume, long-term unemployment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for many workers. The human costs can be severe: workers with long spells of unemployment are much more prone to depression, and even their children tend to have lower levels of emotional wellbeing.
While the long-term unemployment rate is slowly declining from the peaks it reached after the Great Recession, some of this decline is because workers are giving up on ever finding a job, and no longer being counted as unemployed. Instead, they have become living proof of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s warning in 1961: “When human values are subordinated to blind economic forces, human beings can become human scrap.”This article was originally published in Morning Consult.