The average length of unemployment among American households in August of 2011 was 40.3 weeks — the longest on record.

A New Horizon Credit Counseling, a nonprofit debt consolidation organization, says the data on unemployment from the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics is confirmed by what they're hearing from clients. "We are in monthly contact with our clients and survey them quarterly. Our information confirms the Department of Labor statistics. It is particularly noticeable among older workers and recent college graduates," says the company's President Stephen D. Marcus.

Why is it taking so long for job seekers to find work? One characteristic of the current trend, according to A New Horizon, is that while recessions of the past affected a broader range of workers, the current economic downturn has involved relatively fewer industries and their workers, and as the economy continues to lag, this group of workers falls further behind.

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