WASHINGTON — THE percentage of American unemployed receiving jobless benefits could sink back to record low levels by mid-summer after emergency legislation expires, according to a study published March 24.
Only two out of five unemployed received jobless benefits in an average month between July 1990 and October 1991, the lowest level ever recorded during a recession, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report.
The liberal think tank said the proportion receiving benefits rose to over 50 percent starting in December because Congress enacted emergency legislation. But this money runs out in July.
In February, 9.2 million Americans - 7.3 percent of the work force - were listed as unemployed, the highest rate in seven years. Congressional estimates indicate unemployment will remain high next year, even as the economy recovers.
Despite a high jobless rate, the study, titled "Far From Fixed," found that the percentage of unemployed receiving benefits in the current recession was lower than in any other since the end of World War II.
The Center called for extension of the emergency legislation, saying that if it expires in July most workers who exhaust their state benefits after mid-year will be ineligible for any further help.