The government is changing the way it measures long-term unemployment rates, according to The Wall Street Journal. Americans out of work will now be able to report unemployment for periods running up to five years. Until now, the government recorded whether a person was out of work for up to two years.
The new methodology will appear in January’s data, released in February.
The number of unemployed people in the country won't change.
“There has been an unprecedented rise in the number of persons with very long durations of unemployment during the recent labor market downturn,” according to the Labor Department.
“This upper bound was selected to allow reporting of considerably longer durations while limiting the effect of erroneous extreme values (outliers).”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is adjusting to new times, and officials there are "are afraid that a cap of two years may be 'understating the true average duration' — but they won't know by how much until they raise the upper limit," Linda Barrington, an economist who directs the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, tells USA Today.
"The waves are getting higher, and we want to understand the intricacies of how they're made up."
The two-year limit, in use for 33 years, made it difficult for economists to compare the recent recession's damage to the job market with other downturns in the past.
"We realize more and more people are unemployed longer than 99 weeks, so we need to break it down further," says Stacey Standish, a bureau assistant press officer.
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