...the program tackles broader labour market problems, such as shortages of skilled workers, prolonged periods of high unemployment, and ...

What I am trying to convey is that the unemployment rate stays quite high [say in some specific regions such as Atlantic Canada where most people are fishers and other seasonal workers; they don't find employment in some seasons of the year]

My original sentence had this: "prolonged periods of high unemployment". Someone told me that this would be a better way to explain it "persistently high levels of unemployment". They said the phrases have slightly different meaning, I however don't get the difference. Can someone explain the difference please?

Also, for some reason this sounds a bit off to me:

the program tackles broader labour market problems, such as shortages of skilled workers, persistently high levels of unemployment, and ...

Definitions from Collins:

Prolonged: (adj) A prolonged event or situation continues for a long time, or for longer than expected.

Persistent: (adj) Something that is persistent continues to exist or happen for a long time; used especially about bad or undesirable states or situations.


"Persistently high levels of unemployment" emphasizes the high level of unemployment, since "persistently" is modifying "high"." Even though it also indicates time, the implication is that the "height" of the unemployment is the problem, particularly because the noun is the level of unemployment. In contrast, "prolonged periods of high unemployment" emphasizes the length of the unemployment, because the period is the noun being modified and emphasized.

However, in the specific example that you gave, I would honestly use neither of these phrases as I feel they don't accurately convey your meaning. Since you want to specify that seasonal workers are unemployed in off-seasons, I would use some version of "seasonal unemployment," such as "high levels of seasonal unemployment."

  • Thanks for your answer, yuankhan. The seasonal unemployment thing was a specific example. I need to keep it more general and only point out that one of the problems is the high rates of unemployment that remains high for some time. Hence, I can't use seasonal in the sentence.
    – AIQ
    Apr 9 '19 at 0:56

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