WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden has three words of advice for America's 14.5 million unemployed: "hang in there."
Anna Robertson of Yahoo! News asked Biden in an interview posted Thursday what he has to say to those who are currently out of work. Biden said that while the unemployment rate is only "dropping minimally," the economy is slowly improving, and all people can really do right now is to wait it out.
"A significant portion of the companies out there ... are saying now that they're gonna begin to hire this year," he said. "The message is hang in there, things are coming back."
When asked what non-political things people could do to help turn around the economy, Biden suggested a healthy diet.
"Don't smoke, eat healthy, do not consume junk foods," he said. "I know that sounds silly, but it's very practical in terms of your own health and well-being, and also on the impact of the cost of maintaining the health care system in the United States."
The unemployment rate is widely expected to remain above 9 percent this year and above 8 percent next year. That's bad news for many of the nation's jobless -- particularly the 6.4 million people who have been unemployed for six months or longer -- who have few options to improve their chances of getting hired. That's because employers just don't want people who've been out of work for a long time.
HuffPost has been tracking the phenomenon of employers refusing to hire the unemployed, both explicitly, through job ads with stipulations such as "Must be currently employed," and more subtly by filtering out jobless applicants through credit checks and staffing agencies.
The longer you're out of work, the less likely you are to find a new job. That's bad news for the 1.4 million people who've been out of work for 99 weeks or longer.
They can take cold comfort in the fact that the vice president feels their pain.
"I can remember vividly that long walk my father had to take up a short flight of stairs to tell us he was leaving to find a job," Biden said in the Yahoo! interview. "When you're out of work, it's not a slowdown -- it's a depression."