There are 1.4 million "very long-term unemployed" who have been out of work for 99 weeks or longer, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
Ninety-nine weeks is a milestone for the jobless because that's the limit for unemployment benefits (though 99 weeks are not available in all states). Beyond that point, the jobless aren't eligible for much help besides food stamps and charity. The job market for anyone out of work that long is downright hostile.
The 1.4-million figure, calculated using the latest data available as of October, is much smaller than some home-cooked estimates circulated online by advocates for additional weeks of benefits for these "99ers." Some of those estimates are as high as 7 million.
A spokesman for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told HuffPost on Monday that the Lee intends to reintroduce legislation to provide additional weeks of benefits, but more help for the jobless seems unlikely to pass a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The long-term unemployed, as opposed to very long-term unemployed, are people who've been out of work for six months. As of December, 6.4 million people, or 44.3 percent of the 14.5 million total jobless, have been out of work for six months or longer.
The CRS report shows that very long-term unemployment is more likely to afflict older workers than younger ones. Of jobless workers older than 45, 10.7 percent have been unemployed for 99 weeks, compared to 6 percent of workers younger than 35. And 44.4 percent of the very long-term unemployed are older than 45.
Once long-term unemployment sets in, even a college degree is often of little help. Even though the national jobless rate for college graduates is just 4.8 percent, CRS says "unemployed workers at all educational levels were equally likely to have been looking for work for more than 99 weeks."
The report warns that the ranks of the very long-term unemployed could grow.
"Many workers who were laid off during the recession and are still unemployed have not, as of October 2010, been unemployed for more than 99 weeks," the report says. "If a large number of these workers remain unemployed, the number of very long-term unemployed could increase. Finally, during an economic recovery workers who have been unemployed the longest are often the last to be hired."
As HuffPost has reported, job ads on Craigslist and other sites routinely insist that applicants must be currently employed, and older job applicants say age discrimination is rampant.
Click HERE to download a PDF of the report.