Long-term unemployment accounts for a much bigger share of the total than usual. Millions who would like full-time jobs are having to work part time. And millions more have given up looking for work and are no longer part of the count.
First, the government should do more to help unemployed workers search for new jobs — and not just in the places where they already happen to live. Studies comparing policies in a range of industrialized countries find that job-search assistance — in the form of job-brokerage services, referrals to training programs and help with the costs of relocating — is good value for money. It makes a difference and it’s cheap.
Subsidies for training or retraining also make sense, so long as they’re carefully designed. This involves bigger outlays, but good training programs can pass the cost-effectiveness test.