Unemployment and Unemployment Insurance

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.

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.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate decreases in the month of October while five states posted rate increases, and nine states remained the same, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The national unemployment rate stayed about the same at 9.0 percent. Compared to a year ago, 40 states experienced unemployment rate decreases, while eight states plus D.C. saw increases, and two states had no change. The national jobless rate dropped 0.7 percentage points since October 2010. 

Here is a snapshot on employment and unemployment among the U.S. veteran population.  The figures are courtesy of a new report from the Department of Labor (DOL). 

Although the national unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point from its peak of 10.1 percent in October 2009, improvement has been slow and a particularly troubling measure – long-term unemployment – is at record highs. The Economist reports that workers are getting off the unemployment rolls and into a job more slowly than at any time since 1948. And, for the first time in decades, jobless workers are now more likely to drop out of the labor force entirely than to get a job.  

The U.S. Department of Labor has released data on how much each state “overpays” in unemployment insurance benefits, or when a state sends unemployment checks to those who are not eligible. The Department also reports on the steps several states are taking to rein in improper payments.

The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that state unemployment rates changed very little in August 2011, with all 45 states staying within 0.2 percentage points (+/-) of their July rate. A majority of states (45) recorded unemployment rates in August that were not appreciably different from those reported a year earlier. Nevada remained the state with the highest unemployment rate at 13.4 percent. The national rate stayed the same at 9.1 percent, but fell 0.5 percentage points over August 2010.

The president’s recently released deficit reduction plan includes a strategy to increase the solvency of state’s unemployment trust funds and to provide some fiscal relief for those states that have borrowed from the federal government to cover their unemployment insurance costs.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $825 billion stimulus law (ARRA) enacted in February 2009 has had a significant impact on the economy, including levels of employment. The CBO estimates that  ARRA’s policies had a number of effects in the second quarter of calendar year 2011, when compared with what would have occurred had the stimulus not passed, including an increase in GDP, a lower unemployment rate, an increase in the number of people employed and an increase in the number of jobs.