Despite creating more than 460,000 jobs since 2010, Florida ranks second among states with workers who have been unemployed for at least six months, researchers say.
Using federal employment numbers, the Economic Policy Institute of Washington, D.C., a progressive think tank, calculates that 46.2 percent of laid-off Floridians were out of work for at least that long last year. Only New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have a greater share of long-term unemployed, both at 46.6 percent.
Dig through those numbers and you'll find folks such as Winter Park's Ed Griffis, who lost his job as a television executive almost eight months ago.
He's 57 and has spent his career in broadcasting, starting with radio.
"It's what I wanted to do since I was 11," he said.
Now he spends his days networking and looking for job prospects. Since being laid off, he's had a couple of interviews, but nothing has panned out.
He and his wife have cut back, eliminating nights out, canceling gym memberships, changing cellphone providers and getting rid of cable TV. They rely on her salary as a therapist and his unemployment benefits.
"It's sort of nip and tuck right now," Griffis said.
Florida has had a serious long-term-unemployment problem for years. In 2011 and 2012, it had the longest average unemployment in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 2011, more than half of the state's jobless were long-term unemployed. In 2012, average unemployment here lasted 44 weeks, or 10 weeks more than the national rate. One third of the state's jobless were out of work for more than a year.
Workers older than 45 and those without a high-school diploma have suffered most, averaging 50 weeks of unemployment, according to researchers at Florida International University in Miami.
Griffis says he is surprised at how hard it's been to re-enter the job market and worries employers balk at his age.
The experience, he said, has given him a new perspective on joblessness.
"I have far more compassion than I used to," he said.
Last year, President Barack Obama began pressing the nation's biggest employers to hire people like Griffis. In January, the White House announced that 300 companies — including Walt Disney Co. and Orlando-based Darden Restaurants — agreed not to pass over job candidates simply because they have been out of work for extended periods.
A number of studies have shown candidates with long gaps in their work history are often rejected even if their prior experience is well-suited for a job.
It could be bias: a sense that anyone out of work that long must be damaged goods. It could be a fear that their skills have atrophied. It could be a management decision to streamline hiring. Increasingly, companies use filtering software to screen out candidates with dead spots in their résumés.
"Some employers say these workers have stale skills, so they might need to be completely retrained," said FIU researcher Ali Bustamante. "We don't know exactly why, but we know there's a stigma."
Bustamante suggested Florida's long-term-unemployment rate may be higher than average because the state has an older work force. Employees with decades of experience, he said, may be less willing — or able — to downshift and take a job that pays less in an industry they don't know.
"If they want to find employment fast," he said, "they would have to go into one of these traditional service industries, which they most likely don't have the skills for."