If only unemployment lasted such a short time. Instead, the average unemployment spell now lasts:


35.2 weeks


This economic downturn is the worst in several generations. People who lose their jobs are staying unemployed longer and longer. And, Sharron Angle’s inane assertions aside, it’s generally not by choice.

Instead, it is just extremely difficult for many people to find work. That’s apparent from the graph below, which shows the average number of weeks someone who becomes unemployed stays that way. And if anything, the graph understates things—as I discussed yesterday, “unemployed” only counts people who haven’t given up looking for work.

With the trend continuing sharply upward and millions still unemployed, it doesn’t look like this number is returning to normal any time soon.