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When holiday shoppers make a bad choice, the worst result may be an ugly sweater. But Congress recently made a bad choice that will ruin the holidays for more than one million families — and will spoil the coming new year for millions more.
That was the decision — imposed by conservatives — not to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, while maintaining huge tax loopholes for wealthy Wall Streeters and multinational corporations. Congress can reverse its choice in early January, but the clock is ticking.
We are emerging from the worst employment crisis in three-quarters of a century. Job losses in the Great Recession were very deep. The unemployment rate hit 10 percent for only the second time since the 1930s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Moreover, the ranks of the long-term unemployed — those out of work for more than six months — hit a post-World War II record. Even now, over a third of those out of work have been so long term.
And little wonder: in November, there were almost three unemployed people for every job opening. The problem isn’t that people don’t want to work; it’s that there aren’t enough jobs.
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