According to Bloomberg, for the first time in U.S. history, the average amount of time it is taking the average American to find a new job now exceeds the length of time they are eligible for standard unemployment benefits. Their report suggests that the average duration of unemployment stands at 26.2 weeks, while unemployment benefits typically only last 26 week. This new revelation comes just days after it was reported that the jobless rate rose to 9.8% in September.
Congress has extended unemployment benefits twice -- first in July 2008 and then as part of the stimulus bill signed in February. Currently, the unemployed are eligible for a total of 46 weeks of benefits, and those in states where the unemployment rate is more than 6 percent are eligible for 59 weeks.
Those additional benefits expire at the end of the year, and about 1.3 million people will exhaust them by then, according to the National Employment Law Project. An extension of benefits, which was passed by the House of Representatives, is being held up in the Senate by lawmakers who object because their states would be excluded from the plan.
The purple line on the chart shows 5.4 million people have now been out of work for at least 27 weeks, representing 35.6 percent of the total number of unemployed, the most since the agency began keeping statistics in 1948.