March Jobs Report Shows Labor Market Still Requires Federal Jobless Aid

Job opportunities have been so weak for so long that jobless workers have gotten stuck in unemployment for unprecedented lengths of time. Currently more than one-third of unemployed workers (35.8 percent) have been unemployed for more than six months—which, as the figure below shows, is far higher than at any other point on record outside of the last five years. It is important to note that the cause of today’s long-term unemployment crisis is no mystery: it is entirely explained by the length and severity of the current period of labor market weakness, along with long-term trends in long-term unemployment. In other words, the long-term unemployment crisis is exactly what we would expect given how long our labor market has been as weak as it has been. It is not the fault of individual unemployed workers failing to exert enough effort or flexibility in their job search.

Nevertheless, Congress allowed federal unemployment insurance to expire in at the end of 2013. In the first sign of progress in months, the Senate is expected to approve a temporary extension of federal unemployment insurance next week. It would be retroactive to January 1st and would extend federal jobless aid through May 31st, but is expected to face an uphill battle in the House.

Figure B
Interactive

The share of the unemployed who have been jobless for six months or more, 1948–2014

Date Share of the unemployed
1948-01-01 6.4%
1948-02-01 5.2%
1948-03-01 4.6%
1948-04-01 4.4%
1948-05-01 5.1%
1948-06-01 5.3%
1948-07-01 4.9%
1948-08-01 5.3%
1948-09-01 5.5%
1948-10-01 6.2%
1948-11-01 4.3%
1948-12-01 4.1%
1949-01-01 4.1%
1949-02-01 4.5%
1949-03-01 3.8%
1949-04-01 4.8%
1949-05-01 5.1%
1949-06-01 6.5%
1949-07-01 7.5%
1949-08-01 8.0%
1949-09-01 8.6%
1949-10-01 7.8%
1949-11-01 10.6%
1949-12-01 10.0%
1950-01-01 10.0%
1950-02-01 10.5%
1950-03-01 11.3%
1950-04-01 13.4%
1950-05-01 12.3%
1950-06-01 12.3%
1950-07-01 10.8%
1950-08-01 10.5%
1950-09-01 10.6%
1950-10-01 10.9%
1950-11-01 9.9%
1950-12-01 8.1%
1951-01-01 8.0%
1951-02-01 9.4%
1951-03-01 7.2%
1951-04-01 7.2%
1951-05-01 6.9%
1951-06-01 5.6%
1951-07-01 6.6%
1951-08-01 6.0%
1951-09-01 5.7%
1951-10-01 4.6%
1951-11-01 7.1%
1951-12-01 5.2%
1952-01-01 5.5%
1952-02-01 4.5%
1952-03-01 4.7%
1952-04-01 6.3%
1952-05-01 4.3%
1952-06-01 3.6%
1952-07-01 3.4%
1952-08-01 3.0%
1952-09-01 3.3%
1952-10-01 4.8%
1952-11-01 3.9%
1952-12-01 6.2%
1953-01-01 4.8%
1953-02-01 4.8%
1953-03-01 5.0%
1953-04-01 3.9%
1953-05-01 2.9%
1953-06-01 5.8%
1953-07-01 4.4%
1953-08-01 4.0%
1953-09-01 3.8%
1953-10-01 3.4%
1953-11-01 4.5%
1953-12-01 4.0%
1954-01-01 4.9%
1954-02-01 4.6%
1954-03-01 6.5%
1954-04-01 7.6%
1954-05-01 8.5%
1954-06-01 8.8%
1954-07-01 9.1%
1954-08-01 11.0%
1954-09-01 10.6%
1954-10-01 12.3%
1954-11-01 12.3%
1954-12-01 12.1%
1955-01-01 13.3%
1955-02-01 14.7%
1955-03-01 13.4%
1955-04-01 13.5%
1955-05-01 13.1%
1955-06-01 12.2%
1955-07-01 11.4%
1955-08-01 9.9%
1955-09-01 9.2%
1955-10-01 8.6%
1955-11-01 9.9%
1955-12-01 10.4%
1956-01-01 9.6%
1956-02-01 10.6%
1956-03-01 8.6%
1956-04-01 7.7%
1956-05-01 6.9%
1956-06-01 6.2%
1956-07-01 7.1%
1956-08-01 8.7%
1956-09-01 9.1%
1956-10-01 9.5%
1956-11-01 8.4%
1956-12-01 9.2%
1957-01-01 6.5%
1957-02-01 8.6%
1957-03-01 8.6%
1957-04-01 9.0%
1957-05-01 8.7%
1957-06-01 8.9%
1957-07-01 9.2%
1957-08-01 8.4%
1957-09-01 7.4%
1957-10-01 9.6%
1957-11-01 8.2%
1957-12-01 7.4%
1958-01-01 7.7%
1958-02-01 8.1%
1958-03-01 7.7%
1958-04-01 10.5%
1958-05-01 11.6%
1958-06-01 14.2%
1958-07-01 16.6%
1958-08-01 19.0%
1958-09-01 20.7%
1958-10-01 20.3%
1958-11-01 19.5%
1958-12-01 19.2%
1959-01-01 19.4%
1959-02-01 18.3%
1959-03-01 18.1%
1959-04-01 18.2%
1959-05-01 16.7%
1959-06-01 15.9%
1959-07-01 14.0%
1959-08-01 13.4%
1959-09-01 11.8%
1959-10-01 11.4%
1959-11-01 12.1%
1959-12-01 12.6%
1960-01-01 12.9%
1960-02-01 13.0%
1960-03-01 11.7%
1960-04-01 11.9%
1960-05-01 10.8%
1960-06-01 10.5%
1960-07-01 10.5%
1960-08-01 10.4%
1960-09-01 12.0%
1960-10-01 13.4%
1960-11-01 12.8%
1960-12-01 11.8%
1961-01-01 13.6%
1961-02-01 13.7%
1961-03-01 14.5%
1961-04-01 16.9%
1961-05-01 17.7%
1961-06-01 18.9%
1961-07-01 19.9%
1961-08-01 19.0%
1961-09-01 18.0%
1961-10-01 17.9%
1961-11-01 17.8%
1961-12-01 17.3%
1962-01-01 16.5%
1962-02-01 17.7%
1962-03-01 16.3%
1962-04-01 16.2%
1962-05-01 16.5%
1962-06-01 15.2%
1962-07-01 14.9%
1962-08-01 14.7%
1962-09-01 13.1%
1962-10-01 13.3%
1962-11-01 11.1%
1962-12-01 12.8%
1963-01-01 13.3%
1963-02-01 14.0%
1963-03-01 14.8%
1963-04-01 14.7%
1963-05-01 14.4%
1963-06-01 12.4%
1963-07-01 13.5%
1963-08-01 13.2%
1963-09-01 14.0%
1963-10-01 13.3%
1963-11-01 12.6%
1963-12-01 12.3%
1964-01-01 12.5%
1964-02-01 12.4%
1964-03-01 12.8%
1964-04-01 12.1%
1964-05-01 13.4%
1964-06-01 13.1%
1964-07-01 14.5%
1964-08-01 13.7%
1964-09-01 12.4%
1964-10-01 11.7%
1964-11-01 12.3%
1964-12-01 11.9%
1965-01-01 11.1%
1965-02-01 11.0%
1965-03-01 10.2%
1965-04-01 10.3%
1965-05-01 10.2%
1965-06-01 10.7%
1965-07-01 9.8%
1965-08-01 10.0%
1965-09-01 11.1%
1965-10-01 10.8%
1965-11-01 10.1%
1965-12-01 9.9%
1966-01-01 9.9%
1966-02-01 9.5%
1966-03-01 9.2%
1966-04-01 9.0%
1966-05-01 9.5%
1966-06-01 7.9%
1966-07-01 7.3%
1966-08-01 7.0%
1966-09-01 7.1%
1966-10-01 7.9%
1966-11-01 7.3%
1966-12-01 7.5%
1967-01-01 6.9%
1967-02-01 6.9%
1967-03-01 6.2%
1967-04-01 6.1%
1967-05-01 5.3%
1967-06-01 5.0%
1967-07-01 5.2%
1967-08-01 6.7%
1967-09-01 5.4%
1967-10-01 5.6%
1967-11-01 5.9%
1967-12-01 6.5%
1968-01-01 6.6%
1968-02-01 5.9%
1968-03-01 6.2%
1968-04-01 5.5%
1968-05-01 5.0%
1968-06-01 5.4%
1968-07-01 5.5%
1968-08-01 5.5%
1968-09-01 4.9%
1968-10-01 5.0%
1968-11-01 4.8%
1968-12-01 6.0%
1969-01-01 4.9%
1969-02-01 4.3%
1969-03-01 4.4%
1969-04-01 4.8%
1969-05-01 4.7%
1969-06-01 4.4%
1969-07-01 5.6%
1969-08-01 4.6%
1969-09-01 4.9%
1969-10-01 4.5%
1969-11-01 5.1%
1969-12-01 4.6%
1970-01-01 4.5%
1970-02-01 4.6%
1970-03-01 5.0%
1970-04-01 5.3%
1970-05-01 5.9%
1970-06-01 5.5%
1970-07-01 5.7%
1970-08-01 5.9%
1970-09-01 6.3%
1970-10-01 5.6%
1970-11-01 6.7%
1970-12-01 7.6%
1971-01-01 8.5%
1971-02-01 9.2%
1971-03-01 9.3%
1971-04-01 9.2%
1971-05-01 10.2%
1971-06-01 10.9%
1971-07-01 11.3%
1971-08-01 10.6%
1971-09-01 11.0%
1971-10-01 11.7%
1971-11-01 11.2%
1971-12-01 11.4%
1972-01-01 11.7%
1972-02-01 13.4%
1972-03-01 12.8%
1972-04-01 13.6%
1972-05-01 11.9%
1972-06-01 11.2%
1972-07-01 10.6%
1972-08-01 10.8%
1972-09-01 11.2%
1972-10-01 10.6%
1972-11-01 10.2%
1972-12-01 10.2%
1973-01-01 9.5%
1973-02-01 8.4%
1973-03-01 8.9%
1973-04-01 7.5%
1973-05-01 8.0%
1973-06-01 7.5%
1973-07-01 6.5%
1973-08-01 7.7%
1973-09-01 6.8%
1973-10-01 8.0%
1973-11-01 8.0%
1973-12-01 7.4%
1974-01-01 7.2%
1974-02-01 7.1%
1974-03-01 7.1%
1974-04-01 7.6%
1974-05-01 7.5%
1974-06-01 7.4%
1974-07-01 7.7%
1974-08-01 7.7%
1974-09-01 7.2%
1974-10-01 7.2%
1974-11-01 7.1%
1974-12-01 8.1%
1975-01-01 8.3%
1975-02-01 9.7%
1975-03-01 9.7%
1975-04-01 11.9%
1975-05-01 13.0%
1975-06-01 15.8%
1975-07-01 17.3%
1975-08-01 18.3%
1975-09-01 19.6%
1975-10-01 18.0%
1975-11-01 21.0%
1975-12-01 20.3%
1976-01-01 20.8%
1976-02-01 21.0%
1976-03-01 20.7%
1976-04-01 19.7%
1976-05-01 17.5%
1976-06-01 18.3%
1976-07-01 16.8%
1976-08-01 16.9%
1976-09-01 16.0%
1976-10-01 16.4%
1976-11-01 16.8%
1976-12-01 17.6%
1977-01-01 16.6%
1977-02-01 16.2%
1977-03-01 16.0%
1977-04-01 16.1%
1977-05-01 15.6%
1977-06-01 14.4%
1977-07-01 14.3%
1977-08-01 12.9%
1977-09-01 13.7%
1977-10-01 13.4%
1977-11-01 13.2%
1977-12-01 13.4%
1978-01-01 12.6%
1978-02-01 10.6%
1978-03-01 11.2%
1978-04-01 11.1%
1978-05-01 11.3%
1978-06-01 10.5%
1978-07-01 10.4%
1978-08-01 10.1%
1978-09-01 10.2%
1978-10-01 10.0%
1978-11-01 8.8%
1978-12-01 8.2%
1979-01-01 8.8%
1979-02-01 9.0%
1979-03-01 9.6%
1979-04-01 9.0%
1979-05-01 8.8%
1979-06-01 8.8%
1979-07-01 7.8%
1979-08-01 8.5%
1979-09-01 8.6%
1979-10-01 8.5%
1979-11-01 9.0%
1979-12-01 8.6%
1980-01-01 8.3%
1980-02-01 7.6%
1980-03-01 9.1%
1980-04-01 9.3%
1980-05-01 8.9%
1980-06-01 9.6%
1980-07-01 10.7%
1980-08-01 11.3%
1980-09-01 12.0%
1980-10-01 13.1%
1980-11-01 14.2%
1980-12-01 14.8%
1981-01-01 15.7%
1981-02-01 15.5%
1981-03-01 15.2%
1981-04-01 14.4%
1981-05-01 14.0%
1981-06-01 14.0%
1981-07-01 13.8%
1981-08-01 14.5%
1981-09-01 13.5%
1981-10-01 13.2%
1981-11-01 12.7%
1981-12-01 12.6%
1982-01-01 12.6%
1982-02-01 13.2%
1982-03-01 13.6%
1982-04-01 14.6%
1982-05-01 15.5%
1982-06-01 17.0%
1982-07-01 16.8%
1982-08-01 17.0%
1982-09-01 17.8%
1982-10-01 19.5%
1982-11-01 19.5%
1982-12-01 21.3%
1983-01-01 22.9%
1983-02-01 23.5%
1983-03-01 24.4%
1983-04-01 24.6%
1983-05-01 24.9%
1983-06-01 26.0%
1983-07-01 24.5%
1983-08-01 23.6%
1983-09-01 23.5%
1983-10-01 23.1%
1983-11-01 22.7%
1983-12-01 22.0%
1984-01-01 22.4%
1984-02-01 20.8%
1984-03-01 20.4%
1984-04-01 20.3%
1984-05-01 20.0%
1984-06-01 19.3%
1984-07-01 18.7%
1984-08-01 17.6%
1984-09-01 17.2%
1984-10-01 17.1%
1984-11-01 17.4%
1984-12-01 16.7%
1985-01-01 15.5%
1985-02-01 16.2%
1985-03-01 16.1%
1985-04-01 16.4%
1985-05-01 14.8%
1985-06-01 15.3%
1985-07-01 15.0%
1985-08-01 14.9%
1985-09-01 14.8%
1985-10-01 14.5%
1985-11-01 16.0%
1985-12-01 14.8%
1986-01-01 13.9%
1986-02-01 14.1%
1986-03-01 14.0%
1986-04-01 13.9%
1986-05-01 13.8%
1986-06-01 15.0%
1986-07-01 14.7%
1986-08-01 14.7%
1986-09-01 14.8%
1986-10-01 14.8%
1986-11-01 14.3%
1986-12-01 14.6%
1987-01-01 14.3%
1987-02-01 14.2%
1987-03-01 14.3%
1987-04-01 14.4%
1987-05-01 14.8%
1987-06-01 14.5%
1987-07-01 13.5%
1987-08-01 14.5%
1987-09-01 13.9%
1987-10-01 13.3%
1987-11-01 13.1%
1987-12-01 13.0%
1988-01-01 12.5%
1988-02-01 12.9%
1988-03-01 12.3%
1988-04-01 12.3%
1988-05-01 12.5%
1988-06-01 12.3%
1988-07-01 11.9%
1988-08-01 11.7%
1988-09-01 12.3%
1988-10-01 11.8%
1988-11-01 10.8%
1988-12-01 11.4%
1989-01-01 11.0%
1989-02-01 10.0%
1989-03-01 10.7%
1989-04-01 11.0%
1989-05-01 9.9%
1989-06-01 9.3%
1989-07-01 9.5%
1989-08-01 8.7%
1989-09-01 9.1%
1989-10-01 9.8%
1989-11-01 9.8%
1989-12-01 9.6%
1990-01-01 9.7%
1990-02-01 9.4%
1990-03-01 9.6%
1990-04-01 9.5%
1990-05-01 9.5%
1990-06-01 9.5%
1990-07-01 9.8%
1990-08-01 10.2%
1990-09-01 10.6%
1990-10-01 10.4%
1990-11-01 10.8%
1990-12-01 10.6%
1991-01-01 10.9%
1991-02-01 10.9%
1991-03-01 11.1%
1991-04-01 11.6%
1991-05-01 11.9%
1991-06-01 12.6%
1991-07-01 12.9%
1991-08-01 13.5%
1991-09-01 13.7%
1991-10-01 13.9%
1991-11-01 15.4%
1991-12-01 16.4%
1992-01-01 17.5%
1992-02-01 18.1%
1992-03-01 18.8%
1992-04-01 18.9%
1992-05-01 20.6%
1992-06-01 21.3%
1992-07-01 21.5%
1992-08-01 21.0%
1992-09-01 21.5%
1992-10-01 23.1%
1992-11-01 20.7%
1992-12-01 21.4%
1993-01-01 21.2%
1993-02-01 20.7%
1993-03-01 20.0%
1993-04-01 18.2%
1993-05-01 19.6%
1993-06-01 19.5%
1993-07-01 19.8%
1993-08-01 20.1%
1993-09-01 20.2%
1993-10-01 20.4%
1993-11-01 21.0%
1993-12-01 20.8%
1994-01-01 20.1%
1994-02-01 20.7%
1994-03-01 21.2%
1994-04-01 21.3%
1994-05-01 21.3%
1994-06-01 19.9%
1994-07-01 19.6%
1994-08-01 19.6%
1994-09-01 20.0%
1994-10-01 20.8%
1994-11-01 19.7%
1994-12-01 18.9%
1995-01-01 18.3%
1995-02-01 17.2%
1995-03-01 18.8%
1995-04-01 18.7%
1995-05-01 17.5%
1995-06-01 16.8%
1995-07-01 16.7%
1995-08-01 16.3%
1995-09-01 16.9%
1995-10-01 16.5%
1995-11-01 16.7%
1995-12-01 16.4%
1996-01-01 16.2%
1996-02-01 16.5%
1996-03-01 18.2%
1996-04-01 18.3%
1996-05-01 18.1%
1996-06-01 19.4%
1996-07-01 18.3%
1996-08-01 18.2%
1996-09-01 17.4%
1996-10-01 16.7%
1996-11-01 15.7%
1996-12-01 16.1%
1997-01-01 16.1%
1997-02-01 15.7%
1997-03-01 15.6%
1997-04-01 16.2%
1997-05-01 15.7%
1997-06-01 15.8%
1997-07-01 16.3%
1997-08-01 16.2%
1997-09-01 16.2%
1997-10-01 16.0%
1997-11-01 14.8%
1997-12-01 15.4%
1998-01-01 15.7%
1998-02-01 15.2%
1998-03-01 14.1%
1998-04-01 14.7%
1998-05-01 13.8%
1998-06-01 12.6%
1998-07-01 13.3%
1998-08-01 13.2%
1998-09-01 14.5%
1998-10-01 13.6%
1998-11-01 14.4%
1998-12-01 13.5%
1999-01-01 12.0%
1999-02-01 13.2%
1999-03-01 12.2%
1999-04-01 11.4%
1999-05-01 12.4%
1999-06-01 13.7%
1999-07-01 12.3%
1999-08-01 12.1%
1999-09-01 12.0%
1999-10-01 12.4%
1999-11-01 11.9%
1999-12-01 12.1%
2000-01-01 12.7%
2000-02-01 10.8%
2000-03-01 11.0%
2000-04-01 10.7%
2000-05-01 11.1%
2000-06-01 11.2%
2000-07-01 12.3%
2000-08-01 12.2%
2000-09-01 11.5%
2000-10-01 11.3%
2000-11-01 10.6%
2000-12-01 11.4%
2001-01-01 11.3%
2001-02-01 11.7%
2001-03-01 11.1%
2001-04-01 11.0%
2001-05-01 10.0%
2001-06-01 11.2%
2001-07-01 10.8%
2001-08-01 12.2%
2001-09-01 11.5%
2001-10-01 11.8%
2001-11-01 13.9%
2001-12-01 13.6%
2002-01-01 14.6%
2002-02-01 14.9%
2002-03-01 15.9%
2002-04-01 16.8%
2002-05-01 18.8%
2002-06-01 19.6%
2002-07-01 19.0%
2002-08-01 18.9%
2002-09-01 19.1%
2002-10-01 19.9%
2002-11-01 20.5%
2002-12-01 22.1%
2003-01-01 20.5%
2003-02-01 21.8%
2003-03-01 21.0%
2003-04-01 21.9%
2003-05-01 21.6%
2003-06-01 22.8%
2003-07-01 22.0%
2003-08-01 22.2%
2003-09-01 22.5%
2003-10-01 22.4%
2003-11-01 23.4%
2003-12-01 23.1%
2004-01-01 22.7%
2004-02-01 22.9%
2004-03-01 23.6%
2004-04-01 22.1%
2004-05-01 21.9%
2004-06-01 22.5%
2004-07-01 20.7%
2004-08-01 20.3%
2004-09-01 21.4%
2004-10-01 21.5%
2004-11-01 21.4%
2004-12-01 20.8%
2005-01-01 21.2%
2005-02-01 20.4%
2005-03-01 21.8%
2005-04-01 21.0%
2005-05-01 20.1%
2005-06-01 18.5%
2005-07-01 18.7%
2005-08-01 18.9%
2005-09-01 18.9%
2005-10-01 18.9%
2005-11-01 18.0%
2005-12-01 18.7%
2006-01-01 16.7%
2006-02-01 18.7%
2006-03-01 18.6%
2006-04-01 18.6%
2006-05-01 18.9%
2006-06-01 16.6%
2006-07-01 18.3%
2006-08-01 18.3%
2006-09-01 18.1%
2006-10-01 15.9%
2006-11-01 16.4%
2006-12-01 16.2%
2007-01-01 16.3%
2007-02-01 18.0%
2007-03-01 18.6%
2007-04-01 17.4%
2007-05-01 16.5%
2007-06-01 16.4%
2007-07-01 18.3%
2007-08-01 17.5%
2007-09-01 17.5%
2007-10-01 17.7%
2007-11-01 18.9%
2007-12-01 17.4%
2008-01-01 18.5%
2008-02-01 17.8%
2008-03-01 16.9%
2008-04-01 17.7%
2008-05-01 18.3%
2008-06-01 18.2%
2008-07-01 18.9%
2008-08-01 19.8%
2008-09-01 21.3%
2008-10-01 22.3%
2008-11-01 21.1%
2008-12-01 23.1%
2009-01-01 22.6%
2009-02-01 23.4%
2009-03-01 24.2%
2009-04-01 27.1%
2009-05-01 27.0%
2009-06-01 29.0%
2009-07-01 34.0%
2009-08-01 34.3%
2009-09-01 36.6%
2009-10-01 36.6%
2009-11-01 39.3%
2009-12-01 40.4%
2010-01-01 41.6%
2010-02-01 40.8%
2010-03-01 43.4%
2010-04-01 45.3%
2010-05-01 44.9%
2010-06-01 44.8%
2010-07-01 44.7%
2010-08-01 42.6%
2010-09-01 42.2%
2010-10-01 42.6%
2010-11-01 42.3%
2010-12-01 44.7%
2011-01-01 44.0%
2011-02-01 43.3%
2011-03-01 44.9%
2011-04-01 42.9%
2011-05-01 44.7%
2011-06-01 44.3%
2011-07-01 44.6%
2011-08-01 43.2%
2011-09-01 45.0%
2011-10-01 42.7%
2011-11-01 43.1%
2011-12-01 42.9%
2012-01-01 43.1%
2012-02-01 41.8%
2012-03-01 41.6%
2012-04-01 40.8%
2012-05-01 42.6%
2012-06-01 41.9%
2012-07-01 40.7%
2012-08-01 40.0%
2012-09-01 40.4%
2012-10-01 40.9%
2012-11-01 39.8%
2012-12-01 39.1%
2013-01-01 37.9%
2013-02-01 39.7%
2013-03-01 39.1%
2013-04-01 37.4%
2013-05-01 37.4%
2013-06-01 36.9%
2013-07-01 37.2%
2013-08-01 38.0%
2013-09-01 36.9%
2013-10-01 36.0%
2013-11-01 37.4%
2013-12-01 37.7%
2014-01-01 35.8%
2014-02-01 37.0%
2014-03-01 35.8%

Source: Author’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey public data series

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