Research on Unemployment

The nature of unemployment has changed in recent decades. In the past, unemployment was typically caused by temporary layoffs after which workers would return to their jobs, or at the least, their same occupation. Today, the unemployed are often forced to leave their previous occupation and re-orient their careers as they struggle to find scarce quality job openings. Workers need more time to search for work and upgrade their skills, and as a result the duration of unemployment has increased significantly. Longer spells of unemployment correspond with greater economic hardship. NELP has conducted extensive research on long-term joblessness, including our report on the rising stakes of job loss and a major survey of unemployed workers' experiences.

Moreover, in good times and bad, unemployment is part and parcel of the career path of many low-wage workers, as firms churn through employees and as family needs conflict with jobs that don't provide time off for illness or sick children. NELP has documented these dimensions of unemployment as part of our effort to close the gaps in the unemployment insurance system.

NELP researchers monitor the status of employment and unemployment in the economy, including same-day analyses of the Labor Department's monthly employment situation release and weekly and monthly unemployment insurance claims reports. NELP's direct experience working with the unemployed and the unemployment insurance program gives us a unique analytic perspective. In addition, NELP publishes in depth reports that examine the changing nature of joblessness, and staff frequently testify in Congress about unemployment.

See also our policy work on Federal Extended Benefits and Unemployment Insurance, and the helpful statistics section of

For more information on our work in this area, please contact Andrew Stettner,

Other key resources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics

UI Claims Data

Economic Policy Institute