Washington, D.C.—The U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate held
steady at 7.8 percent. Long-term unemployment saw little improvement and remains near record levels,
however, with 39.1 percent of the nation’s 12.2 million unemployed workers out of work for six months or
“The economy is improving, but we’re still not creating jobs fast enough for the 12.2 million unemployed
looking to get back to work,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law
Project. “Especially if you’re long-term unemployed, finding a job remains about as difficult as ever.”
As part of the fiscal-cliff deal reached earlier this week, Congress reauthorized emergency jobless aid for the
long-term unemployed through 2013. Had it failed to act, two million unemployed Americans would have
been abruptly cut off from the crucial income support they need to stay afloat and look for work.
“Unemployed workers around the nation breathed a huge sigh of relief when Congress finally did the right
thing and renewed their emergency unemployment insurance,” Owens said.
The congressional action extending federal jobless aid, locking in revenue raisers, and preserving tax credits for
low-income families is expected to help bolster the recovery. In the coming weeks, Congress can build on the
good that was accomplished with the New Year deal by working to pass meaningful job-creation measures that
will put more unemployed Americans back to work.
“Creating more good jobs is one of the greatest challenges facing our nation today, and it is the single most
important thing that Congress and the president can do to help unemployed workers, fuel a robust and lasting
recovery, and reduce long-term deficits,” said Owens.
In its recent report, 100 Days for America's Workers, NELP offers a short list of policy prescriptions achievable
in the first 100 days of President Obama’s second term—including calling for specific investments in good
jobs—that will help get the economy back on track and give it a sustained boost.
The federal government should invest $220 billion annually for the next five years to rebuild the
nation’s crumbling infrastructure, creating up to five million good jobs.
Providing states with $50 billion for each of the next two years would enable states to rehire or avert
layoffs of 500,000 public-sector workers, yielding improvements in education, public safety and health
Raising the minimum wage would put needed resources in the pockets of working families whose
spending would propel further economic growth.
Strengthening enforcement of core labor standards and closing the regulatory loophole excluding
home care workers from federal wage protections would lift standards in one of the nation’s fastestgrowing occupations and help ensure that workers are paid what they earn, enabling them to better
support their families and contribute more to their communities and local economies.
“The last thing the nation needs is for Congress to undo any good that came out of the New Year’s deal with
foot-dragging and draconian budget cuts in the coming debt-ceiling debate,” warned Owens.
“If Congress behaves irresponsibly in the debt-ceiling debate two months from now, that could undermine the
recovery. Effective job creation not only will keep the recovery going and provide jobs for the unemployed, it
will also reduce long-term deficits.”
The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research,
education and advocacy on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit