Reconnecting to Work: Policies to Mitigate Long-Term Unemployment and Its Consequences Reconnecting to Work: Policies to Mitigate Long-Term Unemployment and Its Consequences
Lauren D. Appelbaum, Editor
Foreword | First Chapter | Table of Contents

179 pp. 2012
$40.00 cloth 9780880994088
$20.00 paper 9780880994064

A "Noteworthy Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics, 2012" – Industrial Relations Section, Princeton University

By all accounts, the Great Recession had a devastating impact on the U.S. labor market—both in the short and long term. Relatively high unemployment lingers, millions are either underemployed or have voluntarily dropped out of the labor market, and the economy is growing but not at the pace needed to return the nation to prerecession employment levels any time soon. The result is that millions of workers have experienced the persistent and painful economic and psychological consequences that result from experiencing long-term unemployment.

This book addresses these consequences in order to promote a better understanding of the effects of long-term unemployment and the policies that are needed to address it. Lauren D. Appelbaum gathers an international group of researchers who present work that focuses on the economic and psychological consequences resulting from lengthy detachment from the workforce and on policies that might ameliorate long-term unemployment.

Till von Wachter shows the economic effects, including poor health outcomes, for both displaced workers and their families that are experienced across demographic and industry groups and may persist for decades. Next, John Schmitt discusses whether steep declines in GDP inevitably lead to sharp increases in unemployment, and looks at the role labor market institutions in two European countries play in addressing decreased labor demand. Timothy M. Diette et al. establish a link between unemployment and emotional well-being and show how particular social characteristics interact with the detrimental effects of experiencing spells of unemployment.

Switching to the issue of policy prescriptions, the final three chapters look at options that encourage firms to either reduce layoffs or increase hiring. Oldenhuis and Polstra stress that cooperation between employers and social service agencies is essential to reducing the unemployment rate. Brusentsev and Vroman examine the use of short-time compensation (STC) in the United States and compare its modest success here with STC programs in Canada, Germany, and Belgium. Also focusing on STC, Tiraboschi and Spattiani conclude that, while there is no silver bullet for reducing job loss during a recession, STC should be an essential element of a national strategy to stem unemployment.

Finally, in the foreword to the book, renowned economist Richard Freeman provides a “Seussian” take on the jobs crisis in the United States. His remarks serve as an amusing yet stern warning that the structural issues generally blamed for causing the weak labor market and rising inequality remain in place.