This week the National Employment Law Project reported nearly 1.2 million unemployed will become ineligible for federal jobless benefits in March, and by June, 5 million would become ineligible. "The continued high rate of long term unemployment reflected in January's jobs report underscores the urgent need for action from Congress to maintain the lifeline of jobless benefits for millions of unemployed workers caught in the undertow of this recession," says Christine Owens, executive director of NELP.
Will the job market keep improving? No one knows what this recovery will look like, although most economists believe that jobs will take some time to recover. The Labor Department revised its earlier job loss and gain figures to show that 64,000 jobs were added in November, rather than the 4,000 originally reported. While that gain sounds pretty good, the figures for December were revised to show 150,000 jobs were slashed from payrolls, instead of the 85,000 job cuts first reported. Nobody expects a smooth trend, but these numbers make it very difficult to know what future months will hold.
Morgan Stanley's Wieseman and Greenlaw said they are getting "closer to calling the peak in the unemployment rate." Still, the unemployment rate could bounce higher again if workers who dropped out of the job hunt are encouraged enough to jump back in. In the meantime, expect the Senate to move forward with a jobs bill aimed at small businesses, infrastructure investment, and green energy. "While today's report shows positive signs that the economy is moving in the right direction, the numbers underscore that we still have work to do to get Americans back to work," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement. "The president has made it clear that job creation is our number one focus in 2010."