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No Work, No Hope: The Unemployed Lose Heart

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — While the unemployment rate is heading slowly in the right direction, those still collecting benefits aren’t too optimistic about finding work in the near future.

Polling and research firm YouGov conducted a survey last month of nearly 8,000 Americans, about 800 of whom were out of work and seeking employment, and the mood among that latter group was not good: 61% said they put their chances of finding work within six months at “50-50 or worse.” And among the group as a whole, 59% said they expected unemployment to get worse in the next year.

The survey was conducted before the latest jobs report came out last week showing improvement in the unemployment rate, but we doubt it would have made much difference in the respondents’ outlook. The economy added just 80,000 jobs in October, fewer than the 95,000 some had predicted. The result was a very modest improvement in the employment situation, with the unemployment rate dropping from 9.1% to 9%. But if the Americans who have given up looking for employment are factored in, the rate jumps to 16.2%.

With the economy expected to continue growing at just 2% a year in the coming years, it seems that the Americans in YouGov’s survey aren’t being overly dour when forecasting the employment outlook. And we can’t blame the unemployed for getting down on their chances. Employers tend to have serious reservations about hiring unemployed people, whether they quit their jobs or were laid off. And while President Barack Obama has made efforts to outlaw unemployment discrimination, the provision is unlikely to become law.

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