The nearly 1.9 million represents almost half of the more than 4 million U.S. workers who have been searching for work for more than 26 weeks. That doesn't count the millions more who have dropped out of the workforce, in discouragement, since the start of the Great Recession.
In those two months,
The Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee minutes released last week expressed unease about the situation, rolling back on an earlier assessment that it could ease monetary policy substantially once unemployment falls to 6.5 percent (the January figure was 6.6 percent, largely because of the number of people who dropped out of the labor pool). The meeting was the last over which
"The maximum level of employment is largely determined by non-monetary factors that affect the structure and dynamics of the labor market," the minutes from the
In testimony before the
The January unemployment report from the
Thursday's initial unemployment claims report indicated first-time filings are running 336,000 a week, down 3,000 from the previous week and virtually even with the four-week average.
All this means mounting pressure on Republicans, who have repeatedly voted down reinstating extended benefits.
Politico reported last week Republicans are working on a plan to revive benefits for three months retroactively. Paying for it involves cracking down on people receiving both unemployment and disability. They're also talking about federal pension reform.
"The substance is there for an agreement," Sen.
"If we do extend it, they want to see reforms."
The stalemate is not just affecting individuals and politics. Democrats on the
"The loss of long-term unemployment benefits is weighing down our economy at a critical point in the economic recovery, threatening to inflict long-term damage," said
"Long-term unemployment remains an enormous challenge for millions of Americans and our overall economy, which is exactly why Republicans should join with Democrats to renew this important program."
"A falling unemployment rate is good if the unemployed are transitioning into employment," Strain wrote. "A falling unemployment rate is not good if the unemployed are losing hope and giving up their job search entirely. Getting more people -- especially the long-term unemployed -- into jobs should be the major focus of federal economic policy in 2014."
A Gallup poll released last week indicated 25 percent of Americans view unemployment as the nation's top problem, with the economy a close second at 20 percent. The poll of 1,023 adults was conducted
So lawmakers will have to face the issue when they return Wednesday following a weeklong recess. In the meantime, 72,000 more people face losing their benefits the first week in March as politicians quibble.
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