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Survey of the Unemployed Shows 47% Say They
Have “Completely Given Up” Looking for a Job

Nearly Half the Unemployed Say They Have Not Gone
on a Job Interview in the Past Month

-Low Growth Economy is Leaving Unemployed Further and Further Behind-

OKLAHOMA CITY, May 21, 2014 — Express Employment Professionals, the nation’s largest franchised staffing company, today released the results of a major, in-depth poll, the “The State of the Unemployed,” a survey revealing that 47 percent of the unemployed agree that they have completely given up looking for work.

The survey also shows that 82 percent of those receiving unemployment compensation said that if those benefits were to run out prior to their finding a job, they would “search harder and wider for a job,” while 18 percent said that they would “be in such despair that I will give up looking for work all together.”

The exhaustive survey was fielded online by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals from April 9 through April 21, 2014 among 1,500 unemployed adult Americans.

“The study offers several surprising and sometimes troubling insights into how unemployed Americans are faring and what they’re doing, and not doing, to get jobs,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express and a former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “It also demonstrates why the labor force participation rate is so low – many people have given up looking for a job.”

The survey shows that the unemployed are more male than female (57 percent vs. 43 percent). They are younger – more than one-half are under the age of 40 and more than one-third are under the age of 30.

People Are Giving Up Looking, But they Haven't Given Up Hoping: The economy is giving the unemployed reasons to quit looking for work.

  • 47 percent agree with the statement, “I’ve completely given up on looking for a job.” (7 percent said they “agree completely,” 7 percent “agree a lot,” 15 percent “agree somewhat,” and 18 percent “agree a little.”)
  • 60 percent say looking for work has been harder than expected. 10 percent say it’s been easier than expected.
  • Nevertheless, 91 percent agree with the statement, “I’m hopeful that I will find a job I really want in the next six months.”

“After searching for four years and being unsuccessful, I am tired of trying,” said one respondent.

People Say There Just Are No Jobs: People want to find work, but increasingly many people say there is little they can do to find it. When asked what is holding them back from finding a job, 46 percent say there are no available jobs.

  • 46 percent report not having gone on any job interviews in the prior month. Among those unemployed for more than two years, 71 percent report not having gone on any interviews in the prior month.
  • 23 percent say their last interview was in 2012 or before.
  • 36 percent say they spent 5 or fewer hours looking for work in the last week. 9 percent spent more than 31 hours looking.

For Many, Moving to Another State or Getting More Education Are Not Answers:

  • 44 percent are “not at all willing” to relocate to a new city/town for a job. 60 percent are “not at all willing” to move to another state to find work.
  • 64 percent have no plans to go back to school to make them more marketable. 7 percent are currently enrolled in classes, and 6 percent have already attended classes or earned a new degree.

Unemployment Compensation is a Helping Hand – and a Holding Pattern: The survey shows many of the unemployed who are not receiving unemployment compensation aren’t receiving it because they are either not eligible (32 percent), were denied (10 percent), never applied (30 percent), or their benefits have already run out (27 percent). Only 20 percent say they currently receive unemployment compensation.

  • 96 percent of those receiving benefits agree it helps them to pay at least some of their bills. 80 percent agree that it “is giving me time to find the right position.”
  • However, in a response that raises issues about whether unemployment compensation should be extended or allowed to run out, 82 percent of those receiving benefits said if their unemployment compensation were to run out prior to their finding a job, they would “search harder and wider for a job.” Only 18 percent say they would “be in such despair that I will give up looking for work altogether.”
  • 48 percent agree that they “haven’t had to look for work as hard” thanks to unemployment compensation.
  • 72 percent agree that compensation has been a “cushion” and 62 percent agree with the statement, “It has allowed me to take time for myself.”
  • 26 percent say they receive income from various odd jobs for cash.

The Unemployed Blame the Economy:

  • 45 percent say the economy is most responsible for their being out of work.
  • 36 percent say they themselves are most responsible.
  • 19 percent say their last boss is most responsible.
  • 18 percent cite the government as most responsible.

    (Note: Multiple choices add up to more than 100 percent)

Read the report.

“When I see that 47 percent of unemployed Americans agree that they have given up on looking for work, I’m shocked because that suggests the economy is much worse than many people realize,” said Funk. “Our economy isn’t recovering fast enough if our fellow Americans have lost confidence in the job market. They’re giving up because they think this economy is giving up on them.

“This survey shows that millions of Americans are at risk of falling into the trap of prolonged unemployment, and it should give policymakers a greater sense of urgency to focus on the singular goal of creating jobs. We can take heart that in these difficult times the American spirit of confident hopefulness endures, but we can’t accept this status quo-not for our country, not for our unemployed neighbors.”

The survey is part of Express Employment Professionals “America Employed” campaign, a series of releases that explores the state of employment and focuses on who gets hired and why.

Survey Methodology
This study was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals and included 1,500 U.S. adults aged 18 or older who are unemployed but capable of working (whether or not they receive unemployment compensation benefits) who participated in an online survey between April 9 and April 21, 2014. Results were weighted as needed for age by gender, education, race/ethnicity, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Totals may not equal the sum of their individual components due to rounding. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

 

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If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Sherry Kast at (405) 717-5966.

 

About Robert A. Funk
Robert A. “Bob” Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has nearly 700 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than five million people to work worldwide. Funk served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was also the Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

About Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated more than $2.5 billion in temporary sales and employed nearly 400,000 people in 2013, and ranks as the largest privately held staffing company in the United States. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually.