Lack of Experience Biggest Barrier for Unemployed Job Seekers


Training Key to Re-Entering Workforce, According to ASA Study

Unemployed U.S. adults seeking work say that lack of experience is the main obstacle that prevents them from finding a job, and training would increase their chances of job offers, according to the results of an American Staffing Association Workforce MonitorTM survey.

Unemployed Adults Seeking Work

Forty percent of unemployed U.S. adults (excluding retirees) are currently looking for work, according to the survey conducted online by Harris Poll. These unemployed job seekers are optimistic about their work future despite being unemployed, on average, for just over three years. Nearly three in four (72%) are confident that they will find a job within the next year. The two most common reasons for their current state of joblessness are that they were permanently laid off (22%) or they voluntarily quit their jobs (19%).

Unemployed job seekers also say that training is critical to their ability to re-enter the workforce. Four in five (82%) agree training would increase their chances of receiving job offers, and nearly nine in 10 (88%) would be willing to work in a new field if training were provided.

Unemployed Adults Not Looking for Jobs

The U.S. unemployed (excluding retirees) not seeking work have been out of the labor force, on average, for six years. The two explanations cited most often for why they are not looking for a job are that they have enough money (30%) or because of ongoing health issues (27%).

What would it take to get them off the workforce sidelines? Half of these respondents say schedule flexibility, good benefits, and a livable wage would encourage them to look for a job. However, training is even more important: nearly three in four (73%) would be willing to work in a new field if training was provided.

“U.S. employers are grappling with workforce supply issues because of a shrinking labor pool and skills gaps,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “Companies can—and should—tap into this large and growing segment of the population by investing in training to help fill the millions of job openings in the U.S.”


Harris Poll conducted the survey online within the U.S. on behalf of ASA Aug. 14–24, 2015, among a total of 1,000 unemployed U.S. adults age 18 and older, of whom 519 identified as looking for work and 118 identified as not looking for work. Results were weighted on age, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and geographic region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population.

Visit the ASA Workforce Monitor to learn more about the survey and to download high-resolution infographics on the results.


About the American Staffing Association

The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit

About the ASA Workforce Monitor

The ASA Workforce Monitor is a periodic survey commissioned by ASA and conducted online by Harris Poll among 1,000 or more U.S. adults age 18 and older. The survey series focuses on current workforce trends and issues. For more information about the survey series, visit ASA Workforce Monitor.


ASA Workforce MonitorMore than three-quarters of employed U.S. adults (79%) are satisfied with their employers’ pandemic-related return-to-work plans. Download the infographic »

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