The Agony of the 99ers

There is no political will to extend unemployment benefits past 99 weeks. For people like Alexandra Jarrin, whose 99th week of UI checks ended in March, that means weeks of purgatory, living out of cars and motels, hoping a friend will mail a few dollars to ease the steep fall from middle class into poverty. This is just very sad:

In June, with long-term unemployment at record levels, about 1.4 million people were out of work for 99 weeks or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not all of them received unemployment benefits, but for many of those who did, the modest payments were a lifeline that enabled them to maintain at least a veneer of normalcy, keeping a roof over their heads, putting gas in their cars, paying electric and phone bills.

Without the checks, many like Ms. Jarrin, who lost her job as director of client services at a small technology company in March 2008, are beginning to tumble over the economic cliff. The last vestiges of their former working-class or middle-class lives are gone; it is inescapable now that they are indigent.

Read the simple, well told and heart-breaking story at [NYT]

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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