How Long Are People Typically on Unemployment?

The economy seems to be doing better than it has at anytime over the past five years. At some point, the federal government will not need to renew emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed. The question is: is now the time? Let’s take a look at some numbers.

According to Brad Plummer of the Washington Post, long-term unemployment is at its highest levels since World War II. There are currently about 4 million people who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Long term unemployment is it’s own unique problem. The debate in our nation’s capital isn’t over the merits of unemployment insurance in general. It’s more specific. It’s about people who are unemployed for longer than six months. The longer you are without a job, the more difficult it is to find employement. A person unemployed for longer than six months has a 12 percent chance of finding a job in any given month. There are still three people seeking work for every one job. Employers are less likely to hire people who have been without work for longer.


61% of unemployed people get benefits for less than six months.

And only about a quarter of unemployed folks stay on for longer than a year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (For 2013).

That said, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities expects some 4.9 million people to get kicked out of the program before they find a job in the next year.

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