More than one-third of unemployed Americans remain unemployed for a long time

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People receive information when attending a job fair held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on September 9, 2021.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

More than a third of unemployed Americans remain unemployed for a long time, and the federal benefits for these workers ended more than a month ago.

However, the number of long-term unemployment has been declining, reaching its lowest level in a year last month.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million people—34.5% of unemployed Americans—have been unemployed for a long time in September. This is a period of unemployment lasting at least six months, which usually brings higher financial risks to the family.

As the economy continues to recover, the number and proportion of long-term unemployed are at their lowest levels since September and October 2020, respectively.

They have also fallen sharply from their peak during the pandemic in March 2021, when nearly 4.3 million people (43.4% of all unemployed workers) were considered long-term unemployed.

“The number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 1.3 million in the past three months,” Said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “This is the biggest three-month drop since last year [the Bureau of Labor Statistics] Recording began in 1948. “

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However, compared with before the pandemic, the number of long-term unemployed still increased by 1.6 million. These families no longer receive federal income support, which ends on Labor Day.

Long-term unemployed persons are generally not eligible for state unemployment benefits, which usually last up to 26 weeks. However, once the state aid for these people expires, Congress has authorized them to receive federal benefits. This helps support family finances, otherwise family finances may drop significantly.

Congress refused to extend benefits again. (After the CARES Act, it passed two other extensions in December 2020 and March 2021.)

Labor economists say that in addition to declining income, long-term unemployed people often find it harder to find new jobs. Their long-term income potential is generally affected, and they are more likely to lose their jobs in the future.

The September employment report indicated that the Covid delta mutation wave has slowed down employment growth. This may be due to sluggish consumer demand leading to reduced recruitment, or workers’ reluctance to accept face-to-face work due to health concerns. It also implies that unemployment benefits do not keep people looking for work.

A report from the US Department of Labor on Thursday showed that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits has decreased. At the beginning of the pandemic, claims for unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level since March 14, 2020.

This indicates that the labor market has improved, as Covid infection has fallen from its recent peak, which may make it easier for the long-term unemployed to find work. Some experts remain cautious.

“As job vacancies are still at a high level, conditions for economic recovery still exist, but the progress in finding quality jobs has been slower than expected,” Said Andrew Stettner, a senior researcher at the Century Foundation.

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