Early last year, 75 percent of people without jobs were receiving unemployment checks. Now, 48 percent are.
Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.
Congress is expected to decide by the end of the year whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. If the emergency benefits expire, the ranks of the poor would rise.
The Census Bureau says unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million people from slipping into poverty last year. It defines poverty as annual income below $22, 314 for a family of four.
Yet for a growing share of the unemployed, a vote in Congress to extend the benefits to 99 weeks is irrelevant. They’ve had no job for more than 99 weeks and are no longer eligible for benefits.