Posted April 17, 2014 by

Study Shows No Difference in Work Quality Between Short- and Long-Term Unemployed

Peter Weddle

Peter Weddle of Weddle’s

One of the joys of being an owner of a niche job board is knowing that every day we’re helping thousands of people find rewarding careers. But sometimes it is easy to forget that many of those people have been trying to find a job for a much longer period of time than others.

It used to be assumed by virtually all that those who are out-of-work are unemployed because they don’t perform as well on-the-job as those who are employed. And if that’s true, then it must also be true that those who have been unemployed for a long period of time must not perform as well as those who have been unemployed for only a short period of time. So the longer you’ve been out-of-work, the less likely it is that you’ll perform well if hired and therefore the less likely it is that you’ll get hired.

As reported today by WEDDLE’s, an experiment run by researchers at the University of Toronto, the University of Chicago, and McGill University demonstrated that there is  a bias against first-time applicants with lengthy periods of unemployment. “Researchers at the three schools submitted 12,000 fake resumes for about 3,000 jobs, and found that those with eight months of unemployment were 45 percent less likely to be called for an interview as those with just one month out of work.”

Now a bias against a certain group of people isn’t always a bad thing. Let’s say that you’re a lipstick manufacturer and you want to hire a model for your television ad. You should be biased against hiring dudes like me as males are far less likely to purchase or use lipstick than are females. Could the bias against the long-term unemployed also be justified? Some would argue yes based upon their perception that the quality of the work performed by the long-term unemployed isn’t as good as those who have been unemployed only for short periods of time. That argument sounds reasonable except that it fails because it simply isn’t true that the quality of work differs amongst the two groups.

According to WEDDLE’s, the long-term unemployed are “just as likely to perform at an acceptable level as those who found work without a long break in employment. Bloomberg News recently conducted a study of six employers in almost 90 locations in the U.S., and found no statistical difference in the caliber of work delivered by the two groups of workers.”

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