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Are You Marginally Attached or Discouraged?


The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.1 percent in September, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. No news is good news, right?


Not exactly. Compared to the recent record in August of 94,031,000 people out of work, the numbers increased by 579,000 in September. The labor force participation rate went from 62.2 percent to 62.4 percent in September, the lowest rate since 1977.


This means that there are 1.9 million “marginally attached” individuals—or those available and looking for work in the past 12 months. In this group, there are 635,000 “discouraged workers,” which The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as “persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.”


If you’ve all but given up on your job search, you’re accustomed to difficult choices. Whether you’re living with family, dipping into a nest egg-worthy 401K or savings account, or “making do” by cutting back on everything, including the basics (5 for $1 Ramen noodles, anyone?), it might be time to consider drastic measures like changing career fields or moving to a city with more opportunities.


Change careers. #Employment in some fields, particularly healthcare and technology (developers, apps engineers and other IT professionals), has been trending up for the past few years. Consider education, certification, and even internships in another field.

Pros: Being able to postpone your student loans with an education deferral, having a regular schedule again, and the excitement of learning new skills.

Cons: The possibility that you won’t love your new profession. Consider a free MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) before taking a leap. You can take an online course from top universities like Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley, among others. Most are free to audit and some only charge for certification. Check out free upcoming MOOCs at OpenCulture.com.


Move. Where you live absolutely matters when it comes to your job search. We compiled a top 10 list from US Census Bureau data, Bureau of Labor Statistics (September 2015), and City-Data.com.

The Top 10 Cities For Job Growth in 2015



Unemployment Rate

Top Industries

Lincoln, Nebraska



Government, communications, distribution, wholesaling, train manufacture and repair, flour and feed milling, grain storage, and diversified manufacturing

Omaha, Nebraska



Trade, transportation, utilities, education, health services, and professional and business services, with some manufacturing, construction, mining, and information

Austin, TX



Advanced manufacturing, clean energy and power transfer, corporate headquarters and regional offices, creative and digital media technology, data management, life sciences

Lubbock, Texas



Energy, engineering, warehousing and distribution, call centers, information technology services, software, education, and healthcare

Madison, Wisconsin



Healthcare, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, bio-agriculture, bio-medicine, and R&D

Irvine, California



Corporate offices, healthcare, semiconductors, software, aerospace, and telecommunications

San Antonio, Texas



Business and IT services, biomedical and biotechnology, energy, auto manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, military

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma



Aerospace, biotechnology, energy, business services, transportation and logistics, healthcare, hospitality and entertainment, telecommunications

Minneapolis, Minnesota



Corporate offices and business services, agriculture and water technology, health and life sciences, technology, and financial services

Honolulu, Hawaii



Tourism, military, defense, defense contracting, agriculture, and biotech

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau & Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industry information is from City-Data.com.

Pros: New city, new opportunities!

Cons: Most companies in today’s economy won’t pay to relocate employees, so you may have to dip further into savings or tolerate a shared living situation until you secure a job. Consider reaching out to contacts, friends, or family members in cities with better job markets. With a local address (and plane fare at the ready), it’s easier to stay where you are while you search in another market and you’re less likely to be rejected based on your location (some recruiters may assume you’ll require relocation and are unable to provide it).


We wish you the best of luck in your search and if you have tips for the long-term unemployed, share them with your fellow job seekers via our social media links!


Last Updated: August 4, 2017
About the author

Kelly Love Johnson

Kelly Love Johnson is Content Strategist for Jobs2Careers. She's also a shower singer, TV watcher, pop culture junkie, and habitual smirker. She's passionate about helping people find their dream jobs and closing the wage gap. Her book, Skirt! Rules for the Workplace: An Irreverent Guide to Advancing Your Career, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2008.