After taking nearly three months to get an emergency unemployment benefits extension bill passed through Congress, with much of that time spent in a Republican-filibustered Senate, most of the unemployed recipients should know that much of the four remaining months of the current bill (which is expected to be signed into law by the President shortly) will be filled with gearing up for the next one — and there will be a next one. Whether or not it passes will be up to the two congressional chambers but four things are certain — Republicans will oppose it, the unemployment rate will still be high, job availability will still be low, and the economy will have either slipped into another Great Depression or will remain mired in its own sluggishness. And how is it that this can be known? Discounting the first certainty as a given, the rest are based on the trending economic factors revealed by the Associated Press Thursday that have kept the economy at a near standstill and joblessness at record levels.
The number of individuals filing for unemployment benefits jumped by 37,000 in the past week, according to the Department of Labor. The number of first-time applicants remained high as well.
Figures also suggest that the job market will allow for less than 100,000 new jobs in July. To keep apace, the Department of Labor estimates that between 130,000 and 150,000 jobs have to be created to assimilate new workers coming into the labor force every month.
The Federal Reserve has predicted that the unemployment rate will continue to hover around the 9.5 percent range through the final quarter of the year.
The National Association of Realtors released a dismal statistic in a 5.1 percent drop in the purchase of previously owned houses. The average for the year is now 5.37 percent. The housing market remains extremely sluggish.
With indicators down, there is little doubt that another emergency unemployment benefits extension will not only be offered, but it will be necessary. Regular unemployment benefits last 26 weeks. At present, there are four Tiers of extensions that prolong the longevity of benefits, which can extend benefits in some states to 99 weeks (hence the term “99er”). Although 99ers are beyond the current range of extension eligibility, there will be many currently unemployed and future unemployed (in the next four months) that will experience a job-scarce job market, making their stay on unemployment benefits longer than during regular economic times.