For the first time, the average amount of time it takes fired employees to find a new job exceeds the length of their standard unemployment benefits.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows the average duration of unemployment is now 26.2 weeks, longer than the 26 weeks of state benefits normally provided to workers who lose their jobs. It’s the first time that has occurred since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records in 1948.
The jobless rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, while payrolls fell by 263,000, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington.
Congress has extended unemployment benefits twice — first in July 2008 and then as part of the stimulus bill signed in February. Currently, the unemployed are eligible for a total of 46 weeks of benefits, and those in states where the unemployment rate is more than 6 percent are eligible for 59 weeks.
Those additional benefits expire at the end of the year, and about 1.3 million people will exhaust them by then, according to the National Employment Law Project. An extension of benefits, which was passed by the House of Representatives, is being held up in the Senate by lawmakers who object because their states would be excluded from the plan.
The purple line on the chart shows 5.4 million people have now been out of work for at least 27 weeks, representing 35.6 percent of the total number of unemployed, the most since the agency began keeping statistics in 1948.