There is evidence to suggest employers may be discriminating against individuals who have been unemployed for longer periods of time.
Individuals who have been unemployed for five months have between a 50% and 60% chance of finding a job, where individuals who have been unemployed for 12 months have as little as a 25% chance of finding a job, according to data from the Current Population Survey.
Indeed, researchers using a resume audit study approach have found that employers are less likely to follow up on applications from workers who have been out of work for longer periods. Audit studies respond to job advertisements with fictitious resumes in which they only vary the length of time the person has been out of work, and then track callbacks for interviews. These experiments find that long-term unemployed workers can be up to 45 percent less likely to receive interview invitations than newly unemployed or currently employed people who look just like them.
It is possible that individuals who are unemployed for longer periods of time are more likely to lose skills or not possess the traits that employers are looking for today, but it is also possible that employers consider those individuals not hiring material because they have not yet found a job.
A copy of the full study is available here.