Capitol Comments

The number of long-term unemployed, defined as those unemployed for 27 weeks or more, has skyrocketed throughout the economic downturn. In 2011, the percentage of unemployed workers considered long-term unemployed increased significantly, hitting a high of 44.6 percent in September; that’s the highest percentage since the Labor Department began calculating the rate in 1948.

A new report released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics takes an in-depth look at recent and historical changes in women’s labor force activities, including characteristics of women participating in the workforce, how much they are working, what kinds of jobs they are performing and what they are earning (including the continued disparities between wages earned by men and women).

Forty-five states saw their jobless rates drop in November compared to a year before according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationally, the jobless rate fell by 0.7 percentage points from November 2010 to 8.6 percent. Since hitting a peak of 10.1 percent in October 2009, the national unemployment rate has been falling slowly and unsteadily, but improvement sped up in November when the rate dropped 0.4 percentage points in just one month.  

As the national unemployment rate remains around 9 percent and state rates range as high as 13.4 percent (Nevada), many states are struggling just to continue paying out unemployment benefits.  A new report out from the Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS) explains how employers in many states now face higher unemployment taxes and a long road ahead toward recovery.

The National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) released their most recent Fiscal Survey of the States today and while things are looking better for states, tough times are still ahead. State revenues have been creeping back since the Great Recession but still remain strained, while states continue to make deep cuts to balance budgets.  The bottom line: states will likely continue to fiscally struggle in the years ahead.