The concept of “workforce disposal” refers to the process occurring when labor inputs are “used” by employers for a short period of months or years, after which workers are “disposed” and never or almost never again regain re-enter the official labour market. The disposed individuals become long-term non-employed, with non-employment durations that may last 15-20 years. They probably report in LFS as inactive or discouraged unemployed; some as “willing to take a job if they were offered the chance”. Undoubtedly many join the irregular, unobservable economy.
The academic literature has paid modest attention to the huge duration of non-employment among people of working age, and its far reaching implications for social policy. The consequences of long-term unemployment have, instead, been the object of a great deal of academic investigation. But they refer to unemployment spells that are much shorter than the ones object of these investigations.
Workforce disposal and non-employment duration are estimated on the basis of longitudinal databases available in various countries. A joint project involving Spain and Germany is currently in progress.