With so many people being out of work for so long, most unemployed Americans are no longer receiving unemployment benefits, the Associated Press reported.
In early 2010, 75 percent of jobless Americans reportedly received unemployment benefits. That figure has now decreased to 48 percent. Nearly 4.6 million out of America’s 14 million unemployed have not been able to secure a job for over a year.
With the national unemployment rate holding relatively steady, the decline in out-of-work Americans on benefits shows a problematic issue of a system that was not originally meant to deal with a long-term job crisis.
"It was a good safety net for a shorter recession," Rutgers University economist Carl Van Horn, told the AP. The unemployment benefit system assumes "the economy will experience short interruptions and then go back to normal."
The Great Recession has created the longest recorded average duration of unemployment – since records were kept in 1948 – in September at 41 weeks. Before, the longest since the current recession was at 21 weeks in July 1983.
Still, unemployment benefits have been able to keep 3.2 million people from falling into poverty in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
As a result of a 2009 legislation, unemployed people can receive up to 99 weeks of benefits, depending on state requirements. A seasonally adjusted 397,000 initial claims were filed for unemployment benefits in last week of October alone, according to the Labor Department.