The chart below (from the New York Times) provides perspective on just how bad the employment situation is this cycle. In short, it was a terrible recession and the so-called recovery has brought little job creation.
As a consequence, according to Business Week, the number of long-term unemployed (those out of work 27 weeks or more) is approaching 7 million. “That’s more than 45 percent of all jobless, a situation not seen since data began being compiled in 1948.”
This is a problem for workers in a variety of occupations—for example, the long term unemployed as a share of all jobless workers (in 2009) was 41.2 percent for those in architecture and engineering, 39 percent for those in management, 36.1 percent for those in community and social services occupations, and 33.4 percent for those in production occupations.
Making matters worse, it appears that the business community has now united around a strategy of federal deficit reduction which (in a period of state and local government retrenchment) will only ensure that things get worse rather than better for working people.