Over a third of unemployed Americans are still long-term unemployed, and their government benefits expired more than a month ago.
The number of long-term unemployed, on the other hand, has been declining and hit its lowest level in a year last month.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million people — 34.5 percent of unemployed Americans — were long-term unemployed in September. This is a term of unemployment that lasts at least six months and generally exposes households to increased financial risk.
As the economic recovery continues, the number and share of long-term unemployed were at their lowest levels since September and October 2020, respectively.
They’ve also decreased dramatically from pandemic-era highs in March 2021, when nearly 4.3 million people (43.4 percent of all unemployed workers) were classified as long-term unemployed.
“The number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 1.3 million in the last three months,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council. “This is the greatest three-month fall recorded by the [Bureau of Labor Statistics] since 1948.”
There are, however, 1.6 million more long-term unemployed than there were prior to the pandemic. These households are no longer eligible for federal income assistance, which expired on Labor Day.
Long-term unemployed individuals are frequently ineligible for state unemployment benefits, which run up to 26 weeks. Congress, on the other hand, had permitted federal compensation for such individuals once their state assistance expired. This aided in stabilizing household finances, which could have deteriorated dramatically otherwise.
Congress once again declined to extend benefits. (It had previously approved two additional extensions following the CARES Act in December 2020 and March 2021.)
Apart from lost income, labor economists report that long-term jobless people often have a harder time finding new work. Their long-term earning potential is often diminished, and they stand a greater likelihood of job loss in the future.
According to the September jobs data, the Covid delta variant wave slowed employment growth, possibly due to hiring cuts in response to weak consumer demand or workers’ reluctance to assume in-person jobs due to health concerns. Additionally, research suggested that unemployment benefits were not discouraging people from seeking job.
The US Department of Labor released a report on Thursday showing a decline in the number of persons seeking unemployment benefits. Benefit claims plummeted to their lowest level since March 14, 2020, during the pandemic’s early stages.
This indicates that the labor market is improving, as Covid infections have declined from their recent peak, which may make it easier for long-term unemployed to obtain work. Certain specialists continue to sound the alarm.
“With job postings remaining high, the fundamentals for economic recovery remain favorable, but progress in finding quality jobs is taking longer than anticipated,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation.