Up, down. Down, up. The Great Recession has spun news media into a frantic, daily whirl of latest-economic-indicators as the hopeful search for those green shoots of recovery drags on. Alas, today’s landscape looks barren: New jobless claims shot up last week, with 464,000 people filing for unemployment, according to Labor Department data released today.
This news comes as Washington limps toward finally extending unemployment benefits for people who’ve been out of work for more than six months. The bill should pass through the House today and head to the president. But HuffPo reported yesterday evening that the 2.5 million people who’ve lost benefits during the four-month congressional debate still have a wait ahead of them:
“Once the President signs the bill, states will move as quickly as possible to resume Emergency Unemployment Compensation payments, but it will not happen overnight,” Rich Hobbie, who heads the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, said in a statement to HuffPost. “Because the program has lapsed for over a month, state workforce agencies need to ensure that claimants qualify for all retroactive payments. In addition, the time it takes will vary from state to state because states use various technologies, some of which are quite antiquated.”
Sigh. This sad saga has been so demoralizing precisely because it so well shows how disconnected the Beltway political debate remains from the world in which many people are now living. Millions of people who are facing the consequences for Wall Street’s folly had to spend four months listening to Republicans call them lazy. Even with that embarrassing debate over (hopefully), they’ll have to continue waiting for the safety net to get stitched back together.