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A stark choice in the new year

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By Scott Klinger

At this moment, four out of every 10 unemployed workers in the United States have been looking for a job for more than six months, the highest level of long-term joblessness since the Great Depression. While more people are buying goods and services now than four years ago, businesses are only beginning to hire back laid-off workers, and there are still three workers lined up for every open job.
In depressed towns and cities, the holidays have been tough for the long-term unemployed. And their situation is about to get much worse.
About 1.3 million Americans received their last extended unemployment check before New Year’s Eve. Later this year, another 3.6 million long-term unemployed workers will lose support unless Congress renews this lifeline.
The unemployed who receive assistance get about $300 a week, on average. That’s hardly enough to cover rent or a mortgage and pay for heat, electricity and a phone – so they can continue to search for work instead of worrying about where the family will be sleeping that night.
The unemployed were left in the cold by the recent budget deal. Congress left town without figuring out how to pay for extended unemployment benefits, leaving the long-term jobless to wonder how they’ll make their mortgage payments in 2014.


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