Middle Class Political Economist: Basics: Length of Unemployment is Historically Unprecedented: As everyone knows, long-term unemployment has been a big problem in the current crisis. But "knowing" isn't the same as having perspective. For that, we need a comparison. It turns out that the average duration of unemployment over the last few months is almost exactly twice as high as the previous peak in 1983 in the aftermath of the Reagan recession. The current average of over 40 weeks is completely unprecedented historically…. Unemployment duration has increased steadily even since the end of the official recession, and may finally have topped out at 40.9 weeks in November 2011. Let's hope we're finally seeing a reduction.