Laid-off workers drawing unemployment benefits hit 4.5 million in late December, the federal government has reported, and more Americans are expected to lose their jobs in 2009.
The Associated Press reports that while new applications for jobless benefits dropped in the week ending December 20th, economists attributed that to the Christmas holiday, when unemployment offices were closed, and cautioned that a more accurate picture of layoff filings will not become clear until the holiday season has passed, around mid-January.
The Labor Department report said that people already drawing unemployment benefits jumped by 140,000 to 4.5 million in the week before Christmas. The increase underscored the difficulties the unemployed are having in finding jobs.
A year ago, the number of people drawing jobless benefits was 2.7 million.
The government reports do not count people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, or those who have given up looking for work.
Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate – which zoomed to a 15-year high of 6.7 percent in November – is expected to rise to 7 percent for December. If that proves correct, it would be the highest since June 1993. Economists also are predicting that employers eliminated 478,000 jobs in December. In November, 533,000 jobs were lost.
Economists say they believe the unemployment rate will keep climbing, hitting between 8 and 10% at the end of 2009.US Unemployment Hits 4.5 Million by Harrison Barnes