6 reasons for long-term unemployment, and the best way to deal with it

Illustration of long-term unemployment

It has been one year since you started your job search, and you still don’t have a job. You’ve applied to hundreds of jobs, but nothing has panned out. You are starting to feel like maybe there is something wrong with you. Perhaps you are not good enough for this economy. Perhaps you’re just not cut out for the workforce. But, STOP. Take a step back and look at the big picture. There are many reasons why someone might be long-term unemployed, and it is not always because they are doing something wrong. In this blog post, we will discuss the long-term unemployment causes and a few tips on better finding a job!

What is long-term unemployment?

Before diving deeper into this topic, let’s make the notion of long-term unemployment clear. Indeed, depending on the country you are looking at, the definition may change.

Since we will be looking at unemployment worldwide in this article, we will consider the long-term unemployment as defined by the International Labour Organization, i.e., the unemployed persons without work, available for work, and looking for a job for one year or longer. It is generally expressed as a percentage of the overall labor force (the long-term unemployment rate) and of total unemployment (incidence of long-term unemployment).

Long-term unemployment causes

Poor economic context

One of the most common long term unemployment causes is the state of the economy. Suppose there are simply not enough jobs to go around. In that case, it’s going to be very difficult to find employment, no matter how qualified you are. This is especially true in industries that have been hit hard by the recession, such as manufacturing and construction.

Unfortunately, the current economic situation is not conducive to optimism. The covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on global labor markets, particularly with the multiple lockdowns in China. In addition, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made the situation worse, causing the price of energy and many raw materials to soar. With all these difficulties, the World Bank considers a recession very likely, which means that the job market is entering a turbulent period.

Age discrimination

Age discrimination is a real problem in the workforce. It can make it very difficult for older workers to find jobs. Employers often prefer to hire younger workers whom they perceive to be cheaper and more energetic. According to McKinsey, 63% of people aged 45-plus across seven countries had been unemployed for more than a year, versus 36% for 18 to 34. With an aging world population, this trend may change as the number of young workers shrinks.

Lack of skills

Another reason why someone might be long-term unemployed is that they lack the necessary skills for the available jobs. This is often the case for people who have worked for a long time in a position no longer considered essential by their employer. Many reasons may lead to that: the work is relocated to another place or is partially or fully automated, leading to less need for people. Or a significant change, e.g., technology, regulation, or market, made it no longer adapted.

The lack of skills can also affect people at the beginning of their careers. Indeed, very often, companies prefer to recruit experienced workers. But the experience is precisely what is missing for those who search for their first job in an industry

Inadequate location

Where you live can also make it challenging to find a job. If there are few jobs in your area, or if the available jobs are not in your field, it can be tough to get hired. Unless you become more flexible and are ready to accept working beyond the area you initially defined.

Personal choice

It is not something to be dismissed, but sometimes, people may want to remain out of the job market. That is especially true when the person has enough financial resources to live without a job, and without looking for a job, for a long time. Typically, people in that situation have prepared for their “sabbatical year” by saving enough money in advance.

For those who did not do it and live in high-income countries, national employment agencies often accompany candidates to new jobs. But they also grant them unemployment benefits, which allow them to cover their monthly expenses. The conditions to get these benefits vary from one candidate to another. However, it is often enough for many people to consider not actively looking for a job (even if it is against the spirit of these aids).

Tough competition

Finally, competition for jobs can also be a reason behind long-term unemployment. If many qualified candidates are applying for the same position, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd.

Most of the time, a combination of all these reasons leads to long-term unemployment, which means you need to address many of these reasons to solve the problem. But before discussing potential solutions, let’s look at the consequences of long-term unemployment.

What does it mean to be long term unemployed?

Discrimination from employers

Employers do not see long-term unemployment as a positive signal. The longer people are out of work, the less likely they are to return. From an employer’s perspective, a person unemployed for a long time requires more training to be fully productive than an active person, and they are rarely willing to do that.

Difficulties to stay up to date with skills

It can be challenging to keep your skills up to date when you are not working. Sure, you can make some efforts by following groups of interest on the Internet. But attending conferences, networking with the most brilliant minds, or simply exchanging with other employees requires much more effort and money than when you are part of an organization. Not to mention that confidentiality agreements may prevent you from discussing all the topics that interest you.

Financial problems

When you don’t work, you have no income, and your financial situation becomes at risk, as you still have expenses to be paid. Long-term unemployment may even lead to significant debts or homelessness in the worst cases.

Depression and anxiety

Prolonged unemployment has a severe impact on mental health. The covid-19 pandemic has shown it recently, with more people feeling anxious everywhere globally due to job losses.

How do you deal with long-term unemployment?

If you are long-term unemployed, don’t give up hope! There are a few things you can do to improve your situation. We are going to discuss them here.

Stay positive and believe in yourself

One of the best things you can do to overcome the effects of long-term unemployment is to stay positive and believe in yourself. It might sound cliché, but it’s important to remember that your unemployment does not define you.

Take a moment with your friends or family to clear your mind for a short time. Or go out jogging. Of course, such activities won’t make your problems go away. But they will help you spend less time in a negative state of mind, which is already good. Furthermore, seeing that you are essential to some people is a serious morale boost in such circumstances.

Update your skills

The worst thing to do when you are long-term unemployed is to do nothing at all. It sends a signal to potential employers that you are lazy. So, a simple thing to do is learn new skills or update your existing skills.

Learning skills is very easy nowadays. You can know them on platforms such as Udemy or Coursera if you prefer skills from recognized institutions. Moreover, the certificates you can get from these platforms are generally well-received by employers. It shows you were committed to learning for some time.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

You spend time looking for any job, so you can spend some time looking for the job. The one that you will like, the one that you are made for. But not the one you have been looking for until now. It is time to consider the results of your job search so far and try to establish a new strategy.

If your search has not been successful, spending time to assess your strengths and weaknesses may help you redirect your research to something more within your reach or improve some aspects of your applications. A SWOT analysis is a perfect exercise to ask yourself good questions and potentially come up with new answers that will help you refine your job search.


If you really know where you want to work, the best way to get there is to know the people who can help you. Networking is the best way to find a job, whatever your job profile.

There are many ways to nurture your network: with social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook, attending networking events such as conferences, or even maintaining your public profile. Passive job seekers manage to get career opportunities without making an effort. Hence, as an active job seeker, it is not very difficult.

Consider broadening your job search

With all the work experience you have, you are probably fit for other jobs than the ones you have considered until now. But you may not know about these jobs. In that case, our free career test is the perfect tool for you.

The Jinn Career Test just needs to know about your job, education background, and skills that you want to have in your dream job. Based on this information, it proposes that you up to 10 jobs similar to yours and up to 10 others requiring more training. Thus, if you are considering a career change but are unsure about the jobs, the Jinn Career Test can give you ideas of occupations to consider for your job search and the skills you need to acquire.

Consider starting your own business

Starting a business is often seen as a daunting task, especially if you have never done it before. And, of course, there is the fear of failing. But in fact, in such a situation, it has many advantages:

  • You can start in whatever domain you want (but better choose a field you are passionate about to increase your chances of success)
  • Very often, you don’t need many resources to start a business
  • You will acquire a lot of entrepreneurial skills in a short amount of time
  • You are considered active, which means that by doing this, and even if you fail and need to search for a job again, employers will see this experience as a positive signal. Thus, you increase your chances of getting back to work in an area where you could apply your newly acquired skills.

Read this article for more information about possible businesses to start when you are not skilled.


We hope you enjoyed our blog on the top reasons for long-term unemployment. It is not always easy to find your dream job, but we are here to tell you that there are plenty of reasons you could be jobless this long term. It is not your fault; keep in mind that it is just the way the world works. We hope you can learn from our article and apply our advice to boost your job search! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us. Thank you for reading; we would love to hear from you!