My own unemployment situation is terminal - but it's a product both of the economy and my inability to relocate. If I'd been free to move to an area where the jobs in my field are three or four years ago, chances are I'd never have become unemployed in the first place. Of course, I've now been unemployed so long that I couldn't even get a job in those areas anymore. However, living where I do there's a major mismatch between what employers seem to want (seems to mainly be enterprise Java coders) and where the bulk of my experience lies (systems engineering). However, while I have the skill set to work with EJB 3 or Spring, that's just a side effect - in my last job, the work I was hired for never really materialized, so I ended up doing a fair bit of Java before they decided that they'd be better off using the money they were paying me to get a couple of dedicated coders, without all of the baggage of my experience doing other stuff, straight out of college.
While I've given up looking, I think a lot of problems lie in the areas of HR, whether in-house or through an agency. With the exception of a few particularly specialized tech-oriented agencies, there's a real disconnect between the people who run the departments who have the vacancy and the people who do the hiring. That's a problem, since it's difficult to convey what's really needed for the job, and where having skills A and B is a valid substitute for C, or cases where you've got experience in D and they don't know that implies your expertise in E and F is off the chart, or where experience in G can get you up and running with H very quickly even if you're not experienced with it. They feed the resume through their buzzword checker, and kick it out if it doesn't include C, E, F and H. So somebody who is quite capable of doing the job doesn't even get through the preliminary culling of resumes. A good tech agency can do a lot there - and I had one for a while, who put me forward for jobs that even though I didn't look like a good match to HR, they knew from extensive interviews and their own expertise what I could and couldn't do.
In the end though, I think a bigger contribution to me stopping looking was the way I'd been treated by employers and potential employers over the years. In my last job, my boss was *so* insistent that I had to get a specific piece of work done by an arbitrary date (arbitrary because it was between Christmas and New Year, and those who were depending on it weren't going to be back in the office until January 5th) that I had to work over Christmas day, and *then* laid me off on January 7th. Then there was the Dream Job where the hiring manager seemed *super* enthusiastic from the first interview, and had me in for a second and third interviews on the next couple of days, then told me that while he couldn't say I had the job since he had to get his manager's manager to sign off on it, it was really just a technicality - then it took 2-3 weeks for them to actually pin down the right people and get them to sign on the dotted line, so long in fact that the company changed its policy so that they would no longer hire people through agencies before it was all done, and after keeping me hanging on with "any day now" for close to a month it was "Sorry, we can't hire you, bye." Of course, the agency that had put me forward had me under an agreement whereby the company in question couldn't hire me directly for a year. Even though the agency went out of business about three months later, it was still too late. That one pretty much broke my spirit completely - it was the only job in my field that I've *ever* seen advertised here (excluding one local company that has as a mandatory requirement experience with a particular DoD standard that you can only get in this state by working for *that* company).
So I gave up. In theory I'm having a go at getting going on my own in iOS/OS X development, trying to funnel what I did for fun in my spare time into a job, but that's getting nowhere. I've spent seven of the last eleven years out of work, largely due to being fscked around by companies and family commitments nailing me down to a city (Milwaukee) where nobody wants my skills. Working for myself is really my only hope now - the length of unemployment and the degree of bitterness I've developed towards common tech management and hiring practices make it highly unlikely I'll ever get a job working for somebody else again. So if the self-driven development goes nowhere, I'm basically done. For life. Makes the CS degree and all the time I spent working on my PhD (which I failed to get, I'll admit, but only just) seem like a complete waste. When I've been asked for career advice in recent years, I've done everything I can to steer people away from the path that I took.
While my own situation is perhaps unusual, I'm sure I'm not the only person with engineering skills in the US who is "lost" to companies needing engineers largely because they'd become so disenchanted and disillusioned and just plain pissed-off with the way companies typically treat us.