A job is becoming a dim memory for many unemployed Americans

WASHINGTON (AP) — For more Americans, being out of work has become a semi-permanent condition.

Nearly one-third of the unemployed — nearly 4.5 million people — have had no job for a year or more. That's a record high. Many are older workers who have found it especially hard to find jobs.

And economists say their prospects won't brighten much even after the economy starts to strengthen and hiring picks up. Even if they can find a job, it will likely pay far less than their old ones did.

The outlook is unlikely to improve on Friday, when the government issues its monthly jobs report. Economists predict it will show that employers added a net 56,000 jobs in September.

That's far fewer than needed to reduce unemployment. The unemployment rate is expected to remain 9.1 percent for a third straight month.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week called long-term unemployment a "national crisis" and said it should be one of Congress' top priorities.

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