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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Unemployment: 1.5 Million Workers will Exhaust Extended Benefits by end of 2009

by Calculated Risk on 8/01/2009 03:35:00 PM

From the NY Times: Prolonged Aid to Unemployed Is Running Out

Over the coming months, as many as 1.5 million jobless Americans will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits, ending what for some has been a last bulwark against foreclosures and destitution.

... laid-off workers in nearly half the states can collect benefits for up to 79 weeks, the longest period since the unemployment insurance program was created in the 1930s. But unemployment in this recession has proved to be especially tenacious, and a wave of job-seekers is using up even this prolonged aid.

Tens of thousands of workers have already used up their benefits, and the numbers are expected to soar in the months to come, reaching half a million by the end of September and 1.5 million by the end of the year, according to new projections by the National Employment Law Project, a private research group.
The National Employment Law Project report breaks down the extended benefit programs by state. The programs are triggered by the state unemployment rate. About half the states qualify for 53 weeks on top of the regular 26 weeks for unemployment benefits. Other states qualify for 46, 33 and 20 weeks of extended benefits.

From the report:
There are now an all-time high of 4.4 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months, up dramatically from 2.6 million in February. That translates into 29% of jobless workers who have been out of work for six months, a record since data were first reported in 1948.
Here is a graph I posted earlier this week of the number of workers who have exhausted their regular benefits:

Unemployed Over 26 Weeks Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The blue line is the number of workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more. The red line is the same data as a percent of the civilian workforce.

According to the BLS, there are almost 4.4 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (and still want a job). This is 2.8% of the civilian workforce.

Right now very few workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits, but there is tidal wave coming. The Law Project estimates 0.5 million workers will have exhausted their extended benefits by the end of September, and close to 1.5 million by the end of 2009. Unless the unemployment rate starts to decline, the numbers will continue to grow rapidly in 2010.