As the general election ramps up (promising a struggle over the future of the social safety net), millions of Americans remain out of work. The unemployment rate has hovered around 8 percent throughout 2012, and a 5.2 million people have been out of work for more than 27 weeks.
The financial burden of long-term joblessness can be crippling, especially for those who've exhausted their 99 weeks of federally guaranteed unemployment insurance. And, for many, prospects look bleak for the foreseeable future, as many employers have no interest in applicants--even those with college educations and years of experience--if they have gaps in their resume.
It was against this backdrop that "60 Minutes" and Scott Pelley took a look Sunday evening at the millions of long-term unemployed Americans struggling to find their way back into the labor force:
Pelley: Did you ever have the sense that you and others were being discriminated against because of how long you'd been unemployed?
Frank O'Neill: There's no doubt. I mean, I've seen it in print, whether it's some newspaper ads or online during those types of advertisements, I've actually seen, "If you are unemployed, you need not apply."
The segment focuses in large part on "Platform To Employment," a "five-week preparatory program" that coaches unemployed individuals on edging their way back into the workplace. It also partners with businesses to help them get their foot in the door.
As The Huffington Post's Arther Delaney explained last week:
[The program] works like this: Carbone's nonprofit company, called The WorkPlace, Inc., raised $500,000 from private investors to put a hundred 99ers through a five-week training course that emphasizes job-getting skills. Then the program places them in work trials with local companies, during which The WorkPlace subsidizes their wages for eight weeks. Then companies can hire them or not.
Of the 100 people enrolled in "Platform," Pelley reports that 70 currently have jobs , including one Diane Graham.
Diane Graham: Being in the hustle bustle of everybody going to work. I missed that. I truly missed it.
Pelley: It's not just about a paycheck.
Diane Graham: No. No. No. Wherein in the past it might have been, but this has become about my dignity.
As the Washington Post's Suzy Khimm pointed out last month, 2 million Americans are slated to lose unemployment benefits during the second half of 2012.