(CNN) — Jennifer Davis lost her job as director of catering and special events at a small chain of restaurants within 15 minutes of the closing of bars and restaurants in Maryland in mid-March.
Almost 10 months later, Davis is still looking for work. A veteran of more than 20 years in the restaurant industry, she has applied “nonstop” to a wide range of positions, including management, operations and executive assistant, with little or no response.
To give herself more options, she is now studying to become a real estate agent and taking online classes for a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Maryland.
“I’m trying to find everything I can get through,” said Davis, 36, who lives in Bethesda, Maryland. “The reality is that the restaurant, catering and events industry is not going to be the same for a couple of years.”
Although employers have hired millions of Americans since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the economy last spring, nearly 4 million workers like Davis are now in the ranks of the long-term unemployed, up from 2.4 million in September. . These people, who have been out of work for at least six months, represent more than 37% of the unemployed.
LOOK: Applications for unemployment benefits in the US reach their highest level since mid-September
And once the unemployed reach this grim milestone, they often find it more difficult to rejoin the workforce, further slowing the country’s economic recovery.
“They are stagnant and beginning to face discrimination,” said William Spriggs, a Howard University economics professor and chief economist at the AFL-CIO. “Employers believe they are damaged goods.”
The growing ranks of the long-term unemployed will make President-elect Joe Biden’s job more difficult to affect the country’s unemployment rate, which remained at 6.7% in December, the first month that has not improved since April. The rate will remain high until these workers find work or become discouraged and leave the job market, Spriggs said.
A closer look at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that just over half of those who are long-term unemployed come from some sectors: leisure and hospitality, which make up a quarter of the group, as well as the education, health and wholesale and retail trade services.
The difficulty of landing a new position affects both the highest-skilled and the least-skilled workers, and management, professional and sales workers have even higher rates of long-term unemployment than those in service jobs.
Meanwhile, among unemployed African Americans and Asian Americans, more than 40% have been out of work for at least half a year, according to federal data. But among their white and Hispanic counterparts, the figure is closer to a third.
Women are slightly more likely to be long-term unemployed than men, particularly among those aged 25 to 44. The opposite occurs among those 45 to 64 years old.
Strong competition for jobs
Tyler Johnson lost his job enrolling clients at a telecommunications company in April. The 23-year-old wants to stay in the marketing field to use the certificates he has earned. He also hopes to work from home because he is concerned about contracting the coronavirus.
While the Tulsa, Oklahoma, resident said he could probably work at a fast food restaurant, he’s trying not to back down in his career. He has had several virtual interviews for telecommunications positions, but was later told that someone more qualified had been selected.
“The workforce is full,” said Johnson, who also builds his own business, Clay Johnson Entertainment Promotion. “Many people are looking for the same job.”
Recognizing that many Americans have trouble finding new jobs, Congress last month extended two key unemployment programs pandemic for another 11 weeks. Both were scheduled to expire in late 2020.
Legislators also passed a weekly increase of $ 300 to profits until mid-March. A weekly federal upgrade of $ 600 sold out in late July.
Approximately 8.4 million workers claimed benefits in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program the week ending December 19, according to federal data most recent. The measure, which Congress created in March as part of its historic expansion of the unemployment program, provided up to 13 additional weeks of benefits.
Another 4.5 million Americans received payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which opened benefits to those who are traditionally ineligible, including self-employed, temporary workers and entrepreneurs.
Andrew Appold is grateful that Congress extended the expired unemployment programs to include the additional payment of $ 300 per week. Appold, an entertainment technician at Disneyworld, has been on leave since April. He has used up the savings he accumulated last year thanks to the $ 600 increase and has had to resort to family and credit cards to cover his expenses. You receive just $ 275 a week in state unemployment benefits.
Appold, 31, completed his master’s degree in organizational leadership and project management last year. The Davenport, Florida resident has applied for several hundred jobs across the country, but only got one interview for a personal assistant job that he ultimately didn’t get.
And these days, most of the jobs you see posted are for low-paying positions that you’re overqualified for.
His next step: Appold plans to save as much money as possible to start traveling to other cities to hand-deliver resumes at companies. He also develops his pop culture graphic arts clothing line, AJacob Fashions.
“Applying for jobs on LinkedIn to anonymous email addresses that you can’t reply to doesn’t really work anymore,” Appold said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism