The domestic labor market is approaching a potential inflection point for millions of workers. The number of people unemployed for more than 26 weeks is rising, and they have only about a 10% probability of finding work at wages similar to what they earned before their extended unemployment.
The longer the recession, the more people drop out of the labor force, which pushes down the number of people eligible for jobless benefits. That distorts our reading of the insured level of unemployment and the underlying labor dynamics of the economy — both of which point toward a level of unemployment greater than that implied by the official number, or U3 rate, that is often reported on.
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