Obama and Boehner Continue to Ignore Elevated Long-Term Unemployment Numbers

By Unemployment-Extension.org | October 15, 2014 at 8:03 PM |

News reports of the lowest unemployment rates in years, now under 6 percent, have been making the headlines for weeks. While this may sound all well and good, what is frequently not reported is that while new unemployment claims are lower than they have been in the last several years, the long-term unemployment rate is still hovering around the same figures.

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Approximately 3 million people remain unemployed and without any assistance. While employment may have ticked upward in some areas, the long-term unemployed have yet to benefit from that boom. At the same time, it would also seem that President Barack Obama is more interested in directing attention toward economic successes in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections.

According to a recent jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just under 250,000 jobs were created during the month of September. Such figures were enough to drive the unemployment rate below 6 percent. The White House has stated that this figure is the lowest since July 2008. Additionally, the report went on to note that the number of unemployed declined by 329,000 people.

Although there may be progress in reducing short-term unemployment and increasing job creation, for the long-term unemployed, the situation has not changed at all. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that the number of people who have been unemployed for longer than 27 weeks, which is the threshold for long-term unemployment, is still around the 3 million mark. Even more disturbing is the fact that those 3 million people represent more than one-third of the total number of unemployed in the United States.

Previously, the long-term unemployed were assisted by the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Unfortunately, the EUC expired at the end of December 2013, and there has been very little movement toward extending those benefits. In April, one bill that would extend those benefits managed to pass the Senate. Ultimately, the bill was not put to a vote by the June deadline by Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, due to the fact that it did not contain job creation measures.

A new bill was later introduced that would extend benefits for another five months and contained a retroactive element. The House also introduced a bipartisan unemployment extension bill. Yet, no action has been taken on either of those bills. Due to lengthy Congressional recesses, combined with urgent foreign policy issues and the upcoming midterm elections, it now seems as though there will be no forthcoming action in the immediate future.

Currently, President Obama is focused on what is shaping up to be a challenging midterm election. When it comes to finding a solution for the long-term unemployed, Speaker of the House Boehner has been quick to blame the unemployed for their own situation, even going so far as to suggest that extended unemployment benefits encourages the unemployed not to seek employment.

Exactly what will happen following the midterms remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, and it is that while the short-term unemployed numbers continue to decline and the long-term unemployed numbers remain stagnant, this is a situation that simply cannot be ignored.

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