Nearly 10.3 million Americans were unemployed in November, and almost 4 million of them, or 38.8% of all unemployed, have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. (December unemployment figures are due out Friday morning.)
The number of Americans who have remained unemployed for more than 26 weeks soared during and after the Great Recession, peaking at 6.7 million people — 48.1% of total unemployed – in April 2010. (All figures used here are unadjusted for seasonal variations.) While long-term unemployment has fallen slowly since then, it remains well above pre-recession norms, both in absolute and percentage terms: The averages in 2008 were 1.76 million and 19.7%, respectively.
The federal-state unemployment insurance system typically pays benefits for up to 26 weeks. But during periods of high unemployment Congress can, and often does, fund “emergency unemployment compensation” programs for a set time. Congress did so in June 2008, as the recession gathered steam. After several expansions and extensions, up to 47 extra weeks of unemployment benefits were available, depending on each state’s jobless rate.
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at the Pew Research Center.