Congress’ Next Big Issue: How to Handle Jobless ’99ers’
By: Jeff Cox
Tuesday, 2 Nov 2010
Before the new Congress takes over in January, lame-duck legislators will have a big issue on their plate: What to do with those whose emergency unemployment benefits run out at the end of the November.
Congress ran into the same problem during the summer, and it resulted in hundreds of thousands without jobs to go weeks not receiving benefits. Those affected have come to be known as “99ers,” meaning they have exhausted the government’s extensions of up to 99 weeks of compensation.
Their numbers rose to record levels in September as a total percentage of the unemployed. More than one in 10 jobless Americans—1.47 million, or 10.4 percent of the total—have been out of work for more than 99 weeks, with a few million more on the fourth and final tier of benefits.
They are among the individuals most impacted by the economic slowdown, and without help as many as five million more could be joining their ranks soon. Though perhaps not enough to cause a double-dip recession in itself, the trend of long-term unemployment remains a burden the economy cannot shake.