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NewsFlash: February 4, 2008

1.9 million expected to exhaust UI benefits by year-end

During the last recession, Congress took action to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits beyond the 26-week mark in March 2002, when 1.3 million workers had already exhausted their basic benefits.

Today, with Congress once again debating a UI extension, a new Economic Snapshot compares the number of long-term unemployed in March 2002 with the number today and the number projected by the end of 2008.

Two findings by economist Heidi Shierholz argue for prompt congressional action: 

1. Although the overall unemployment rate is lower today than in March 2002 (4.9% today vs. 5.7% then), the actual number of people unemployed 26 weeks or longer (and therefore in need of an extension) was 1.33 million then and is 1.38 million now. 

2. If overall unemployment reaches 6.2% by the end of 2008, as has been forecast, the corresponding number of long-term unemployed could reach 1.9 million. 


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