The following chart from the St. Louis Fed shows that people are staying unemployed much longer than they have in any previous economic downturn since 1950:
(click for full chart)
As the As the Washington Post recently noted:
Another disturbing development was that the number of people out of work for 27 weeks or longer reached a record 5 million, accounting for a third of the unemployed. That suggests to some economists that those job losses were caused by structural changes in the economy and that many of those people won’t be called back to work once the economy picks up. The longer people are out of work, the harder it becomes for them to find jobs and the more likely they are to exhaust savings or lose their homes to foreclosure.
And see this.