The pain of the long-term unemployed has persisted even as the overall jobs picture has brightened a bit and the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.8 percent. The new government report for October was due to be released on Friday morning.

“The problem is incredibly urgent,” said Kevin A. Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and an adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign. “Spain had a financial crisis in the late 1970s and has never seen its unemployment rate drop back to where it was before that crisis. The unemployed become discouraged, and ultimately the employment to population ratio might take a permanent hit.”…

About 800,000 workers want a job but have simply given up looking, and so are no longer even counted as unemployed. About 1.7 million people have joined the disability rolls since the recession began at the end of 2007, an increase of 24 percent, as workers use the disability program as a backdoor safety net when their unemployment insurance runs out. After searching for a new position for a year, a worker trying to regain employment finds that his chance to do so in the coming month falls below 10 percent.

As seen in the debates and on the campaign trail, the problem has largely fallen off politicians’ list of priorities.