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economy, employment, job search, unemployment

Emergency Unemployment: Senate debate deadlocked in the shadow of a weak jobs report

We are two weeks into the new year, and the Senate has made no significant progress in renewing Emergency Unemployment for 1.3 Million US citizens. Senate leaders seem to agree on the need to renew the UI benefits, but cannot agree on how to pay for them.

As Congress leaves town (again) for a week starting end of day tomorrow, the earliest the debate will be picked back up is January 27th. That will leave most people without benefits for just about a month.

What would your life be like if you had little or nothing in savings, and no income for a month? Mine would be a disaster. Apparently, our Senators are unable to grasp how their inaction is having direct impact on 1.3 Million of their constituents.

They were also apparently unmoved by the latest jobs report data–only 74,000 jobs were added in December vs. an average of 200,000 in the prior 4 months. This was the smallest amount of jobs gained in nearly 2 years.

There seems to be a bright spot in the jobs data, though: The national unemployment rate dropped to 6.7%, the lowest its been since October 2008. That’s good news, right?

Not really. 347,000 more job seekers have dropped out of the labor force, adding themselves to the number of people that have dropped out of the labor pool out of frustration in not finding work and/or who are now only working part-time. That figure? 13.1 percent of the total labor force. That’s nearly double the official rate of active unemployed (those who are unemployed but who have been available for work and actively seeking work in the four weeks prior to the report).

Doesn’t that strike you as troubling? Does to me. It means we have a much bigger problem than we acknowledge.

Not a great way to start the new year. I very much hope that the Senate figures out how to break through their deadlock and help people get back to work.

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