WASHINGTON -- Twenty-two percent of workers laid off in the past five years are still unemployed, according to a new survey.
The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University surveyed more than 1,100 workers, including nearly 400 who are unemployed. A slim majority of laid-off workers in the survey, or 54 percent, said they received unemployment insurance when they lost their jobs. However, 83 percent of those who received benefits said the compensation ran out before they found jobs.
Congress dropped extended unemployment benefits at the end of last year, despite complaints from Democrats and a few Republicans. Last week House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who refused to allow a House vote reauthorizing the benefits, said that some unemployed people want to "just sit around" instead of trying to work.
The number of long-term unemployed in the country has fallen to 3 million, down from a high of 6.6 million in 2010. While some are finding jobs, others are no longer counted as unemployed because they've given up looking for work. Economists are unsure how much the decline in long-term joblessness owes to people finding jobs.
The Rutgers findings are consistent with a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report on displaced workers, which found that among the 9.5 million workers laid off from January 2011 through December 2013, nearly a quarter remained unemployed in January of this year.
The BLS survey is a bit more positive than the Rutgers report because it shows some progress in recent years. Compared with its previous displaced workers survey in 2012, the government's latest data show that more laid-off workers had gotten new jobs at the time of the survey. Among displaced workers who had lost jobs they'd held for more than three years, a majority of the re-employed were earning more money than in their previous positions -- up from 46 percent in the previous survey.
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