Some hope for the long-term unemployed?

National

Some hope for the long-term unemployed?

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(CBS News) -- The Labor Department said today that another 362,000 Americans have joined the line for unemployment benefits, but the good news is that the number of people who have been out of work 27 weeks or more -- the long-term unemployed--is trending downward.

The number of long-term unemployed rose from 1,780,000 in the fall of 2006 to 6.7 million in the spring of 2010. Since then, it has fallen to around 4.7 million.

Jack Walerius is one of the long-term unemployed. He has not had a full-time job for more than three years. He now spends his time volunteering at an unemployment networking group.

"From my perspective, from my eyes, I still see that we're in a deep recession," Walerius told CBS.

Walerius used to sell advertising to car dealerships. He is now one of the 4.7 million Americans who have been without work for more than six months. The long-term unemployed often find that employers are worried their skills have degraded and also wonder why they have been unemployed for so long. Those who do land a job earn on average 17% less than they did before.

Asked how many jobs he has applied or interviewed for, Walerius replied "too many to count."

Walerius and other white collar workers in California spoke with CBS's Scott Pelley back in 2011. Since then, Walerius has been living off of savings. He worked at a COSTCO for two months over the holidays and at 61 years old, he is not picky about the jobs he is willing to take.

"Quite frankly the seasonal job I had, I was hoping would turn into a full-time job and if that's what's out there that's what I would take right now, he said."

Walerius says that volunteering keeps him sane and gets him out of the house.

And what does he say to people who think he just isn't trying hard enough?

"You have to walk a mile in my shoes," he said "I just hope it never happens to you."

Walerius recently had his first in-person job interview in four months. He is still waiting for an answer.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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