(NEW YORK) -- From energy boomtowns in North Dakota to high-tech manufacturing in Oregon, the fastest job growth in the U.S. is heavily clustered in the West -- from Arizona and Utah to Colorado -- and in the middle states with big oil and gas industries.
But for all these bright spots, Friday’s jobs report also revealed a sharp spike in the number of Americans out of work for six months or longer.
While employers had added 175,000 new jobs in February -- better than experts had predicted -- unemployment inched higher to 6.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It was fueled by a surge in the number of Americans who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks -- the long-term unemployed.
Those 4 million people now make up 37 percent of the unemployed.
Older people are more likely to be among the long-term unemployed. Nearly half of the people between 45 and 54 years of age are unemployed long term.
Sunil Sunder Raj said he’d been out of his health care job since 2007.
“I’m trying every single day,” said Raj, who lives in New Jersey and holds multiple college degrees. “I am down in that [home] office -- that’s my dungeon, that’s my war room. I’m looking for a job. There is just no time to slack off.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the workers that will be most in demand in coming years are home health aides who will be needed to assist the aging population. Also in demand will be insulation workers, and interpreters and translators.
Raj, a husband and father of two, said he was hopeful despite feeling ignored when applying for work.
“You have to be optimistic these days,” he said. “You feel sorry for yourself. … There is not room for that.”
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