The economic recovery that has been under way since the middle of 2009 is gaining momentum and the labor market is finally starting to add jobs, but this growth is far from stable. The unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in April 2010, and much higher among particularly vulnerable groups such as African Americans (16.5 percent), Hispanics (12.5 percent), youth (25.4 percent), and those without a high school diploma (14.7 percent).
Long-term unemployment has been a particular problem in this recession. Last month, 6.7 million Americans reported that they had been looking for a job for 27 weeks or more, and the average length of unemployment was 33 weeks. This is the longest length of average unemployment since 1967. We cannot cut these families off from needed unemployment insurance benefits while they are still struggling.
Channeling funds to the unemployed through unemployment insurance and the TANF emergency fund directly aids communities as unemployed workers immediately spend this money on necessities. In fact, every dollar spent on unemployment insurance puts at least $1.63 back into the economy, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com. And TANF emergency funds are expected to save or create 185,000 temporary jobs by the end of September. This helps the unemployed and their families, and it also helps the overall economy since without aid, unemployed workers who are rendered destitute without an income or assistance from the government are not active consumers contributing to economic recovery.
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