From an article posted to The New Yorker magazine, and in a reference to a study by Daniel Sullivan and Till Van Wachter. The researchers demonstrated a large risk for a shorter life expectancy (1.5 years) for long-term unemployed, 30 to 40 years of age. A 15 to 20 % increase in death rates over 20 years. Negative risks for long-term-jobless did not reduce to zero until the age at the time of the job loss was age 60. Clearly, for this sample, being younger and jobless carried a greater risk. This is a sufficient reason to put people back to work in government created jobs programs. The latter suggestion which seems so obvious to the unemployed, eludes politicians and the economists who advise them.
The authors looked at the effects on mortality and income of long-term unemployment on workers victimized by a recession in 1980-1982. Our current long-term unemployment appears to be institutionalized and permanent. News articles often comment on the lack of jobs for recent graduates and the inability to pay back college loans. But Big Media focus has been on the immediate, near term effects of prolonged unemployment for the economy. Sure. There will reduced revenues. Of course. And unemployed people will shop less too. Unfortunately, the news media will not focus on mortality, (decreased life expectancy), and also not on long-term, economic losses.
We are consistently redirected away from the real casualties of this economic depression. The impact on the young unemployed is now out in the open: reduced life span, reduced economic prospects, and a host of other problems. Perhaps my own focus on the fate of these young persons twenty five years out, when they are nearing retirement, is misplaced. In addition to preserving Social Security for them, perhaps I should be working hard to give them jobs to feel secure in now.
I have been writing recently about income inequality. Prolonged unemployment must contribute to a sense of the unfairness of an economic system, where politicians talk a great deal about cutting the cost of government, instead of how government is going to help you to get a job by stepping up to the challenge and creating a job for you.