America's Out-of-Work Are Resilient, but Not Endlessly So

Long-term joblessness could make the U.S. labor market more like Europe's
Photograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

For years economists have stressed the flexibility of the American labor market. Employers in the U.S., less impeded by strong unions and fussy labor market regulation than in other advanced economies, were quicker to fire workers during downturns—and faster to hire once demand picked up. Workers were flexible too, partly because they had to be. With less of a welfare-state cushion than most Europeans, they were more willing to pick up and move to a new job. They did their part.

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