Work remains elusive for those who run out of benefits

Three out of four Washington workers whose unemployment benefits have run out since November 2009 are still looking for work, according to a recent survey by the Employment Security Department (ESD).

In April, the ESD emailed a survey to claimants who had access to a full 99 weeks of unemployment. The agency sought to find out if people have returned to work, the employment services they’re using and the barriers they’re running into while looking for new jobs.

“The survey contradicts the perception that unemployed workers wait until their benefits run out, then quickly find work,” ESD Commissioner Paul Trause said in a press release.  “We know there aren’t enough jobs to go around right now, but there may be additional factors that keep employers from hiring these workers.”

Here are some highlights from the survey:

• The survey was sent to 31,744 people in April, and 5,065 responded.

• Nearly 25 percent have returned to work.

• 80 percent of those back at work are earning less than in their former jobs – on average, about 29 percent less.

• Of those who returned to work, about 19 percent found jobs out of state.

• Of those who haven’t found work, about 13 percent have stopped looking.

• Nearly half said age is the toughest barrier to overcome in their effort to get back to work, while more than one-quarter pointed to the sluggish economy as a factor in their inability to find work.

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