Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky
November 8, 2011
A majority of jobless Americans are no longer receiving unemployment benefits because they’ve been out of work too long to qualify.
The percentage of unemployed still getting checks from the government is now down to 48%—a significant drop from last year’s mark of 75%.
About 30% of the nation’s 14 million unemployed have been without work for a year or more.
Even fewer Americans will be receiving benefits by January unless Congress approves continued emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the worst-off states. Some economists fear that if the benefits are eliminated, it could slow economic growth even more because recipients of unemployment benefits return their $300 a week or so to the economy from the bottom up. According to the Associated Press, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “has found that the program is the most effective government policy for increasing growth among 11 options it’s analyzed.”
Government jobless assistance kept 3.2 million people from falling into the ranks of the poor last year, while a record number of people (46 million) were on food stamps in August 2011.