Meet the new underclass -- the four million Americans who have been unemployed for more than a year. With every additional week out of work, their chances of finding a job dwindle. It turns out that many employers don't want to hire the currently unemployed. Enter Joe Carbone , who is determined to return the American dream to the long-term unemployed in Connecticut. And he's succeeding, one job at a time. How's Carbone doing it? Scott Pelley reports.
The following script is from "Trapped in Unemployment" which aired on Feb. 19, 2012. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Henry Schuster and Rachael Kun, producers.
We've seen some improvement in the job market lately. But there's something stubborn about unemployment. Never in the last 60 years has the length of joblessness been this long. Four million people, a full third of the unemployed, have been out of work more than a year. They've been severed from the workforce. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, calls it "a national crisis." To understand what's happening, we went to Stamford, Conn., to see an experiment that might just offer a way back for Americans trapped in unemployment.
Frank O'Neill: They started to go through round after round of layoffs. And I got caught in one of the layoffs there.
The Great Recession arrived early for Frank O'Neill.
Frank O'Neill: It was a cold day in February.
It was February 2008. O'Neill was a credit consultant for an IT company.
Scott Pelley: What happened?
O'Neill: They called me into the vice president's office. And he basically told me that they were having some financial difficulty and told me that my last day was gonna be that day. I got a small little severance out of it and was off into the world of the unemployed.
Pelley: What have the last three years been like for you?
O'Neill: You have those moments where you're the only one in the house and you're sitting in front of the computer looking for a job and you go, "When's this ever gonna break for me?"
Pelley: How many people signed up for unemployment? Everybody.
No one we met in Stamford expected to be out of work this long.
Pelley: How many have run to the end of the unemployment benefits? Everyone.
Those unemployment benefits end after 99 weeks. These folks have been out of work two years, three, even four. They're college educated professionals in their forties or fifties; people who thought their company would take them all the way to retirement.
Vernon Downes: I was very angry. I was very bitter. I was fed up with society, the corporate world, the lies, deceit, the greed.
They don't look it, but they've fallen out of the middle class. Turned in cars, gone on food stamps, taken kids out of college and faced foreclosure. Now, they've pinned their last hopes on Joe Carbone.