While job seekers should be pleased with improvements in the unemployment rate, not all have cause for celebration. With revised legislation beginning to impact the Federal extended unemployment benefits program, Americans who remain unemployed long-term and benefited from upwards of 99 weeks of unemployment insurance assistance, are or will be affected. While the program has been extended through the remainder of 2012, with an improving employment rate many long-term unemployed have lost or will loose their benefits. Starting in June benefits will be cut back to 73 weeks in states with the highest unemployment, and 63 weeks for all others.

Since Federal extended unemployment benefits eligibility is based on your state’s employment rate, an improving jobs market is beginning to impact many states. Because states are required to show an unemployment rate of 10% or higher than the same period in the prior three years, many have failed to meet the eligibility threshold, including California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Texas – all of which rolled off the program this month, accounting for 200,000 long-term unemployed Americans loosing their benefits. State-level unemployment benefits have not changed, remaining at 26 weeks – with a 13 week extension. Nearly 30 percent of jobless Americans fall into the long-term unemployed category.

The jobless rate has fallen from a high of 9.1 percent since last August, and now hovers at 8.1%. There still remain 12.5 million Americans unemployed. Of these, 5.1 million have been unemployed for 52 weeks or more. And compounding these numbers, according to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trust and a look at 2012 unemployment statistics, your age, education or occupation has little or no impact on whether you find unemployment if you are among the long-term unemployed. Age – While older workers are less likely to be unemployed, once they lost their job they were less likely to find employment and remain long-term unemployed than a younger worker. Education – Those with higher levels of education were less likely to be unemployed; however, once individuals lost their job, their long-term joblessness was similar to someone without a degree. And the report indicates that an unemployed worker with a high degree such as a PhD has a slightly higher chance of never finding employment again once unemployed long-term.

Industry and occupation – Long-term unemployment continues to impact every industry and occupation, even those industries with better employment rates. With long-term employment benefits being cut and those who remain chronically unemployed, more pressure will be placed on those currently or recently disenfranchised to exhaust all avenues to quickly seek employment – as the outlook for long-term employment does not look good.

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