Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CRS Report: 1.4 million Americans Have Been Our Of Work For More Than 99 Weeks

Joan McCarter - Those left behind in the infamous tax-cut deal, the 99ers, now comprise 1.4 million would-be American workers, according to the Congressional Research Service. Other estimates from advocates peg the number much higher.

Ninety-nine weeks is a milestone for the jobless because that's the limit for unemployment benefits (though 99 weeks are not available in all states). Beyond that point, the jobless aren't eligible for much help besides food stamps and charity. The job market for anyone out of work that long is downright hostile.

The 1.4-million figure, calculated using the latest data available as of October, is much smaller than some home-cooked estimates circulated online by advocates for additional weeks of benefits for these "99ers." Some of those estimates are as high as 7 million.

A spokesman for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told HuffPost on Monday that the Lee intends to reintroduce legislation to provide additional weeks of benefits, but more help for the jobless seems unlikely to pass a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The long-term unemployed, as opposed to very long-term unemployed, are people who've been out of work for six months. As of December, 6.4 million people, or 44.3 percent of the 14.5 million total jobless, have been out of work for six months or longer.

The CRS report also showed that older workers are more likely to be among the very long-term unemployed. "Of jobless workers older than 45, 10.7 percent have been unemployed for 99 weeks, compared to 6 percent of workers younger than 35. And 44.4 percent of the very long-term unemployed are older than 45." This cohort of the unemployed is also comprised of all educational levels.

And, of course, as high unemployment rates continue, the ranks of the very long-term unemployed--the 99ers--are just going to grow. For one thing, employment discrimination among the currently unemployed is a significant factor. For another, the GOP House is more interested in kabuki votes against healthcare reform, banning abortion, and doing away with the campaign matching fund--their very first bills--than creating jobs.

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