The annual survey, entitled "The State of the Unemployed," was conducted by the staffing firm Express Employment Professionals. The data was collected from a Harris poll of 1,553 Americans currently out of the labor force.
"We often hear people theorizing about what motivates the unemployed or how joblessness is affecting the lives of fellow Americans," Express Employments CEO Bob Funk said. "Instead of guessing, we decided to ask them."
The findings, which were released on Wednesday, reveal the continuation of a troubling trend within the discouraging job market in the US. Forty percent of unemployed Americans reported that they have simply "given up" on searching for jobs.
"The survey shows that some of the troubling trends we observed last year are continuing," Funk said. "While the economy is indeed getting better for some, for others who have been unemployed long term, they are increasingly being left behind."
Much of the discouragement may be attributed to a tight job market, the gap between employer needs and prospective employee skills, and unemployment benefits. Indeed, the survey found that unemployment benefits contribute to the rate of unemployment, as well as to Americans’ willingness to search and find a job.
About nine out of 10 respondents admitted that they would "search harder and wider" for jobs if their benefits ran out. Sixty-nine percent agreed that their benefits provide "cushions" for them to take their time in the job hunt. Perhaps more alarmingly, over half — 59% — said benefits had "allowed me to take the time for myself,” and 40% said “I haven’t had to look for work as hard knowing I have some income to rely on."
The survey additionally found that the length of unemployment time has an impact on Americans’ willingness to job hunt, as most of the respondents who have been out of work for long periods of time have said they have stopped looking. Fifty-five percent of respondents who had been out of the job for over two years reported they are no longer searching. Thirty-two percent of those who have been out of a job for 13 to 24 months reported the same.
While the figures remain unfavorable, the rate has decreased from the 47% of jobless Americans who said they had given up on the job hunt in 2014. However, the survey also found an increase in the average duration of unemployment from 2014.
Currently, 41% of Americans have been unemployed for longer than two years, a substantial increase from last year’s 32%.