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Unemployed for Ages

Pete Springer/OPB

Congress has now passed and President Obama has signed the tax cuts compromise, which includes an extension of federal unemployment benefits. But the continuation of benefits won’t help anyone who has already received a check for 99 weeks. That remains the maximum possible in Oregon and Washington – some states are less, as you can see on this handy map.

Oregon’s unemployment rate jumped another tenth of a percentage point in November, though people are being hired. Unemployment here is still higher than the national average. Oregon is starting a study of the effects of long term unemployment on individuals’ future wages. There’s also a debate about the whether unemployment benefits discourage people from getting back to work.

We’ll hear from people on this show who’ve been unemployed a long time about how they are managing. What are you seeing or experiencing? How has Oregon’s high unemployment rate affected you? Even with the extension of the federal benefits program, Oregon is expecting thousands of people a week to reach the end of benefits this spring. How will this affect the state?


  • Cathy and Paul Beauchesne: unemployed couple in Bend who have depended heavily on unemployment insurance benefits
  • Greg Rosen: co-founder American 99ers Union, unemployed since 2008, has exhausted all 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits
  • Tom Fuller: communications manager for WorkSource Oregon
  • Russ Meyer: freelance writer, unemployed since 2008
  • Phil Levine: professor of economics at Wellesley College
economy unemployment

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