The most recent reduction in weekly jobless claims obscures the reality for many of the country’s unemployed: millions of people are out of work and unable to collect unemployment benefits due to a lack of labor.
According to The Century Foundation, a progressive, nonpartisan think tank, it is estimated that over 3.8 million unemployed persons cannot receive benefits because they have exhausted their federal or state unemployment benefits in the last year.
“Yes, people have returned to work, but there are still a significant number of jobless,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, in an interview with Yahoo Money.
“There are probably more individuals out there who have exhausted their benefits and are unable to find work than there are people who are still receiving benefits.”
According to the Labor Department, around 1.6 million employees received unemployment benefits in mid-January this year. This week, an additional 260,000 people applied for the first time, marking the first decrease in applications in four weeks.
“As a result, both the initial claims statistics and the continuing claims figures are much lower than they should be at this point of the epidemic,” Stettner said.
Stettner said that these people would not be eligible for unemployment benefits until they find jobs, work for a certain amount of time, and are laid off as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
Formerly, these employees were reliant on pandemic-era unemployment programs that expired in September, one of which prolonged the length of unemployment payments beyond the maximum period allowed by state law.
In addition, “some folks may have some additional job history that they may tap into to unlock that eligibility,” said Stettner. “This differs from state to state, but as a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to have worked at least six of the previous 15 months to be eligible for benefits,” says the author.
After dropping to 3.9 percent last month, a strengthening labor market helped the country generate a record 6.4 million new jobs at the end of last year. 3.9 percent Despite this, the economy of the United States remains vulnerable to instability due to rising prices and the continuing epidemic, which has most recently seen the rapid increase of the omicron variety.
When you look at the numbers, you can’t help but think, ‘Wow… this is a great economy,'” Stettner added. The CEO says, “No, we still have a lot of expansion to accomplish, simply to rehire the individuals who lost their jobs due to COVID.”