With 4 million Americans long-term unemployed, the benefits crown lies ahead

Food is loaded while drivers wait in line in their vehicles upon arrival at a “Let’s Feed LA County” food distribution hosted by the Los Angeles Food Bank on December 4, 2020 in Hacienda Heights, California.

FREDERIC J. BROWN | AFP | Getty Images

Long-term unemployment is closer to a record as Washington lawmakers rush to pass another pandemic aid package in front of a favorable wreath for long-term unemployed.

Long-term unemployment is a period of at least six months without work. Some economists say it is especially a daring unemployment rate relative to household finances.

About 4.1 million unemployed Americans were long-term unemployed in February – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with about 3 million people in the past year.

Such workers made up 41.5% of all unemployed workers last month, according to the agency that released its monthly work report on Friday.

This share gradually increased during the pandemic. It is fast approaching the historic high in the wake of the Great Recession: 45.5% in April 2010.

US rescue plan

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are trying to put up a $ 1.9 billion Covid relief bill and get it at the end of next week for President Joe Biden to sign.

Millions of unemployed workers are ready to lose unemployment benefits after 14 March.

Dangerous period

The U.S. added 379,000 jobs in February. This is an improvement from the 166,000 in January and a decrease of 306,000 in December.

But the unemployment rate has changed little – 6.2% in February from 6.3% in January. And unemployment has increased for some groups, such as black workers and those who did not have a college degree.

The US is distributing vaccines to ward off the coronavirus and Democrats could soon spend $ 1.9 billion on the economy. However, pain is likely to persist, at least in the short term, before widespread vaccination of the vaccine and the concomitant resumption of economic activity.

Meanwhile, the prevailing weak growth, according to economists, is troublesome for long-term unemployed. Finding work is becoming increasingly difficult for such individuals, and lower job improvement makes the task all the more challenging.

Businesses, for example, may look unfavorably at long gaps in employment. Jobs may not be available to workers in hotels, restaurants or other hard-hit industries. Employers in other industries may not easily hire a candidate with less experience than others.

“The longer they have jobs, the harder it is to get a new job,” Williams said. “It applies in this period, as well as in good times.”

Unemployment benefits can provide some income support to those who qualify. But they are at the mercy of federal lawmakers, who must pass legislation to extend benefits.

Aid usually lasts up to six months, although Congress has twice passed legislation to extend the duration of the benefits.

“The revenue stream is not 100% certain,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Jobs website Indeed. “It really depends on what happens in Washington and the timing of the passage of certain accounts.”

In fact, it appears that nearly 3 million workers lost their benefits the week after Christmas due to the timing of a $ 900 billion aid package passed in December.

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