[Excerpt] Following the official end of the 2001 recession in November 2001, unemployment continued to rise for some 19 months. The unemployment rate reached a peak of 6.3 percent in June 2003 before trending down to 5.0 percent in June 2005. Even when the overall unemployment rate started to decline, however, there was no immediate improvement in the number of unemployed who had been jobless for 27 weeks or more, often referred to as the long-term unemployed. Indeed, it was late 2003 before long-term unemployment peaked and early 2004 before it began to recede. In fact, in the aftermath of each of the last two recessions, long-term joblessness continued to climb far longer than it did during the downturns of the mid-1970s and early 1980s.
This report compares the severity and length of long-term joblessness associated with each of the last four downturns. In the analysis that follows, the long-term jobless rate is defined as the proportion of the labor force (rather than of unemployment) that has been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer.