Low-paid workers such as cleaners, catering assistants and machine operators are most likely to be on the dole for more than six months if they lose their job, according to new research.
The TUC analysis showed that as unemployment rises and the number of job vacancies fall, a growing proportion of unemployed people are staying on the dole for over six months, hitting low-paid workers more than others.
The number of dole claimants out of work for over six months has increased by around a third since the start of the recession, rising from 29% in April 2008 to 40% in October of this year, with around one in six claimants out of work for over a year.
The study showed that the risk of becoming long-term unemployed has increased most for machine operators, cleaners, catering assistants and security guards, while dole claimants from professional occupations have seen barely any change in the length of time they are spending out of work.
The gap between different jobs has grown over the recession and lower-paid occupations are now experiencing the sharpest rise in the risk of long-term unemployment, said the TUC, which published the report ahead of new unemployment figures on Wednesday.
Out of work people from lower paid occupations such as cleaners, machine operators and sales assistants have a far greater risk of becoming long-term unemployed than those from higher-paid occupations such as managers, senior officials and professional occupations such as engineers, teachers and solicitors, said the TUC.
TUC general-secretary Brendan Barber said: "The risk of long-term unemployment is a huge concern to the millions of people currently out of work as it can permanently scar their career prospects.
"While the majority of unemployed people are still able to come off the dole within six months, an increasing number of previously low paid workers are getting stuck on the dole for at least six months and sometimes for over a year.
"The Government must treat long-term unemployment as its top priority. Not only is it a personal tragedy for those who get stuck on the dole, it carries wider social and economic risk too.
"Providing help after 12 months on the dole is simply too late for many people struggling to get back into work. Ministers should show they're taking the unemployment crisis seriously by giving more support to the increasing number of people on the dole for six months or more."