Companies won’t even look at the resumes of the long-term unemployed

Read this post by Brad Plumer, here is an excerpt:

Matthew O’Brien reports on a striking new paper by Rand Ghayad…The researchers sent out 4,800 fake résumés at random for 600 job openings. What they found is that employers would rather call back someone with no relevant experience who’s only been out of work for a few months than someone with lots of relevant experience who’s been out of work for longer than six months.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have. It doesn’t matter why you lost your previous job — it could have been bad luck. If you’ve been out of work for more than six months, you’re essentially unemployable.

…This jibes with earlier research (pdf) by Ghayad and Dickens showing that the long-term unemployed are struggling to find work no matter how many job openings pop up. And it dovetails with anecdotes that workers and human resource managers have been recounting for years now. Many firms often post job notices that explicitly exclude the unemployed.

I think of this as further illustration of what I have called ZMP workers, a once maligned concept which now is rather obviously relevant and which has plenty of evidence on its side.  It’s fine if you wish to label them “perceived by employers as ZMP workers but not really ZMP,” or “unjustly oppressed and only thus ZMP workers.”  The basic idea remains and of course “stimulus” will reemploy them only by boosting the real economy, such as by raising output and productivity and reeducating, and not by recalibrating nominal variables per se.  For these workers it is not about wage stickiness.  Most by the way would not be ZMP if the U.S. economy were growing regularly at four percent in real terms, but of course that is not easy to achieve, not from where we stand today.

I’ve sometimes seen it hinted that calling them “ZMP workers” lacks compassion, but the compassionate thing to do is to try to identify the actual problem.  A year or two ago I thought ZMP workers accounted for about 1% of potential U.S. workers (hardly all of the unemployment problem, I would stress), but if anything I am moving that estimate upwards.


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