The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.
Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent — a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.
Congress is expected to decide by year’s end whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. If the emergency benefits expire, the proportion of the unemployed receiving aid would fall further.
The ranks of the poor would also rise. The Census Bureau says unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million people from slipping into poverty last year. It defines poverty as annual income below $22,314 for a family of four.
Yet for a growing share of the unemployed, a vote in Congress to extend the benefits to 99 weeks is irrelevant. They’ve had no job for more than 99 weeks. They’re no longer eligible for benefits.