A poll released Wednesday shows that 47 percent of unemployed Americans have given up looking for work.
Conducted on behalf of Express Employment Professionals last month, Harris Poll asked 1,500 unemployed adults whether they agreed with the statement “I’ve completely given up looking for a job.”
Seven percent said they “agree completely” with the statement; another seven percent said they “agree a lot”; 15 percent “agree somewhat”; 18 percent “agree a little”.
Eighty-two percent of those polled agreed that they were “becoming more discouraged the longer I am unemployed”.
A large majority of those polled indicated that unemployment benefits were keeping them from searching harder for a job. Politicians have divided largely along party lines over whether to extend unemployment benefits, with Republicans arguing that the benefits provide an incentive to remain unemployed.
Democrats have generally resisted that thinking and pushed for more benefits.
According to the Harris Poll, 82 percent of the unemployed said they would “search harder and wider for a job” if their unemployment benefits ran out.
Sixty-two percent agreed with the statement that unemployment benefits “allowed me to take time for myself.” Forty-eight percent said that because of the compensation they “haven’t had to look for work as hard.”
Thirty-six percent of respondents said they spend less than five hours a week looking for jobs while 9 percent said they job-searched more than 31 hours a week.
“When I see that 47 percent of unemployed Americans agree that they have given up looking for work, I’m shocked because that suggests the economy is much worse than many people realize” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in a press release.
The official unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in April, but many economists believe that the rate masks the large number of Americans dropping out of the workforce.
Economists were also recently surprised by weaker-than-expected Gross Domestic Product growth. The U.S. economy grew by only 0.1 percent in the first quarter of the year.
But respondents to the Harris Poll were still optimistic that they’d find a job in the near future. Ninety-one percent agreed with the statement “I’m hopeful that I will find a job I really want in the next 6 months.”