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Half of Unemployed Poll Respondents Not Actively Looking for Work - Report

More than 50% of unemployed workers polled by the Chamber of Commerce say they don't expect to be back at work before the year is out.
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The mildly disappointing December jobs numbers released Friday could be just the tip of the employment iceberg if a poll from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is indicative of the climate. 

The Chamber of Commerce polled 529 Americans between November 2 and November 9 who became unemployed during the pandemic, finding that more than half (53%) of respondents said that they are only somewhat active, or not very active at all, in looking for work. 

About two-thirds (65%) of respondents don't expect to be back working before the new year and 8% said they plan on never returning to work. 

A Look at the Payroll Numbers

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor released its monthly payroll report, with the numbers showing the U.S. economy adding just 210,000 jobs in November, less than half of the 550,000 jobs economists forecast. 

November's numbers marked the slowest job growth this year.

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While the unemployment rate is expected to fall to 4.2% from 4.6%, that number does not take into account people who are no longer participating in the job market by looking for work. 

The Chamber of Commerce's polling suggests that hiring bonuses and flexible work hours could incentives workers to come back to the labor force. 

Hiring bonuses of $1,000 remains the top incentive most likely to bring workers back. That is unchanged since its May poll.

Flexible work hours and a positive work environment are also high on the list.

Child Care Is an Issue

The White House has made child care options a key pillar of its plan to increase labor force participation. 

"One important reason for the decline in labor force participation is that working families do not have the supports they need to both engage in employment and ensure quality care for children and other family members who need it," the White House said recently, while adding this issue primarily affects women workers.