Nov. jobs: Long-term unemployed still struggling.

December 06, 2013

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor released the monthly jobs report for November. The U.S. economy added 203,000 net new jobs during the past month and the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent, the lowest it has been since November 2008. But amidst this good news, 10.9 million are still unemployed, another 5.7 million have dropped out of the labor market entirely, and the number of long-term unemployed – 4.1 million – remains unchanged. 

“While today’s jobs report brings good news, too many have been left out,” said Rachel Unruh, associate director of National Skills Coalition. “More than 4 million have been without a job for six months or longer. Congress should heed President Obama’s call to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program as well as focus on policies that will allow more of America’s workers to get new skills to find family-supporting jobs and employers to get the skilled workers they need to compete.”

This week, President Obama spoke about how our nation can do more to promote greater economic mobility. Included among his recommendations is providing America’s workers with the skills and education they need to compete. He recognized that demand-driven technical training and apprenticeships can be a route to the middle class. And he stated that next month, he will make an announcement regarding policies to help the long-term unemployed find work. 

Congress has an opportunity to act now to help these workers get the training and support they need to find family-supporting jobs that are currently going unfilled. Before the end of the year, Congress needs to:

  • Extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which expires on December 28, before 2.15 million long-term unemployed lose their benefits by March of next year;
  • Reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Act, which expires December 31, that provides training, income supports, and other benefits to workers who have lost, or are at risk of losing, their jobs as a direct result of foreign trade; and
  • Bring to the Senate floor the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to modernize the federal workforce development system to better reflect best practices learned over the past 15 years to align training with the skills workers and employers need to compete.