Despite Improving Employment Picture, Jobless Workers Face a Bleak Holiday with Federal Unemployment Benefits Set to Expire

December 06, 2013 |  |  Link to article

By Neil Ridley

This time of year, many jobless workers and their families face a difficult and uncertain holiday season. Unless Congress acts soon, 1.3 million workers will lose federal unemployment benefits when the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program expires on December 28. Another 850,000 workers will exhaust state unemployment benefits in early 2014 and lose access to federal unemployment assistance.

Workers will lose benefits at a time when the recovery is still slow. The unemployment rate-which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today announced had dropped slightly to 7.0 percent-is nearly two full percentage points higher than when the recession started in 2007. Moreover, long-term unemployment remains at record levels compared to previous economic recoveries. In November 2013, 37 percent of jobless workers-4.1 million people-had been out of work for six months or more, according to the BLS. If the nation continues to add jobs at the modest rate shown in the November jobs report, it will take five years to return to pre-recession employment levels.

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