Nearly one in three jobless Americans has been out of work over a year

·Senior National Affairs Reporter

Almost one in three unemployed Americans has been out of work for over a year, according to a new analysis that underlines how the jobs crisis is in many ways a crisis of long-term unemployment.

Pew's Fiscal Analysis Initiative, which uses government data, found that 31.8 percent of the roughly 14 million people officially counted as unemployed have been jobless for more than twelve months (pdf). That's around 4.4 million -- nearly the population of Louisiana.

Since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, the problem has gotten worse. In the third quarter of that year, just 16 percent of the unemployed had been out of work a year or longer.

In September, the average duration of joblessness was more than nine months, a 60-year high, according to the government's monthly jobs report. And 45 percent of the jobless are considered to be long-term unemployed--that is, they've been out of work six months or more.

Being out of work for a long period has several negative effects, analysts say. As President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have noted, workers' skills tend to atrophy as they lose touch with developments in their field. Older workers become increasingly likely to give up searching for work. With rates of long-term unemployment as high as they are now, the jobless threaten to become a semi-permanent class, exacerbating growing inequality. And that's leaving aside the psychological and emotional toll of going for so long without work -- something Yahoo! readers told us about firsthand this summer.

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