Nearly 2 million long-term jobless Americans will lose their unemployment insurance lifeline just days after Christmas if Congress doesn’t act to renew the federal unemployment insurance program for job seekers out of work six months or longer. The program expires at the end of the year. Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), says if long-term jobless aid ends,
The basic economic security floor will be ripped from under two million unemployed workers.
This month marks the end of the federal extended unemployment insurance benefits program for 35 states with the nation’s highest jobless rates. More than half a million long-term jobless workers have lost their unemployment lifeline. Chad Stone of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) says:
As we’ve explained previously, EB [extended benefits] will no longer be available in any state, not because most states’ economies have improved to anywhere near pre-recession conditions, but because they have not significantly deteriorated in the past three years.
Some good news on the job front: 163,000 jobs were created in July, although the unemployment rate ticked up from 8.2percent in June to 8.3 percent last month. So far this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, roughly the same as in 2011, according to Department of Labor data released this morning (click on chart to expand).
The big rise in jobs—many analysts expected 100,000 jobs or fewer would be created in July—is a good step toward economic recovery. But the July data also include several indicators showing difficulties in recovering gains lost since the recession. For instance, long-term jobless workers—those without work for 27 weeks or more—continue to see little change, with 5.2 million remaining unemployed. They account for 40.7 percent of jobless workers.
Jobs increased by only 69,000 in May, well below the 100,000 per month needed just to keep up with new job entrants, according to data the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released this morning and far from the 226,000 average number of new jobs created in the first three months of the year. The unemployment rate worsened from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent in May.
Why can’t the long-term unemployed—6 million of whom will lose their unemployment insurance benefits if Congress does not act before the end of year—find jobs? “Because the jobs aren’t there—not because they are not looking or are unwilling to accept pay cuts or relocate,” Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), told a Senate hearing on long-term joblessness this afternoon.