In some states, nearly half of job-seekers are long-term unemployed

January 6, 2014


Long-term unemployed as a share of the unemployed. (Source: Analysis by Joint Economic Committee Democrats)

The Senate, on Monday, plans to vote on whether to extend long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people, a diffuse group suffering from one of the recovery’s most stubborn problems.


Long-term unemployment as a share of the unemployed. (Source: Urban Institute.)

The aid is aimed at helping the long-term unemployed — people still searching for work after spending 27 weeks or more without a job. That population is at historic levels nationally and accounts for a large chunk of the jobless in many states. The approximately 4 million long-term unemployed account for more than a third of the nation’s jobless.

In New Jersey, Florida and the District of Columbia, they make up more than 45 percent of the unemployed, according to estimates from the Democrats on Congress’s Joint Economic Committee. (As we wrote a few weeks ago, the share of New Jersey’s total population affected by the loss of benefits is larger than in any other state.)

In 10 additional states, the share of the jobless who are long-term unemployed is greater than 40 percent. All told, they make up more than a third of the unemployed in 29 states and account for the smallest share of the jobless in the Dakotas.

Democrats in both chambers and the White House have been pushing for an extension to the temporary assistance, which began under President George W. Bush and has been renewed 11 times since. Even if the extension is renewed in the Senate, its prospects are unclear in the House, where Republicans have said they might support an extension, but only if Democrats concede in some way — with spending cuts elsewhere or by easing regulations, for example.

As many as 73 weeks of benefits were available in some states, with most offering roughly 40 weeks or more. Since they expired in late December, nearly every state has reverted to 26 weeks. That expiration of benefits is estimated to have immediately affected 1.3 million people.

Benefits by state before the Saturday expiration

Because eligibility and benefits are determined at the state level, unemployment benefits vary across the nation. Here’s how that patchwork looks today, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank focused on policies affecting those of low and moderate incomes.


Benefits by state after Saturday’s expiration

Here’s what it will look like after:


UPDATE: An earlier version of this story included an older version of the CBPP’s chart showing the effect of the expiration of emergency unemployment benefits.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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