(CNSNews.com) – Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the overall number of people unemployed in the United States has fallen 21.4% but the number counted as long-term unemployed has increased 14.2%.
In January 2009, there were 2,699,000 long-term unemployed Americans. Today, five-and-a-half years later, there are 3,081,000 long-term unemployed Americans.
“My expectation is that as the national unemployment rates comes down, and if the pace of job creation stays where it is or even rises, I expect to see improvements on all fronts,” Yellen testified before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday. “And, in fact, long-term unemployment has declined and the evidence that I’ve seen--although perhaps not utterly definitive--suggests that the long-term, the decline in long-term unemployment does on balance reflect those who’ve experienced long spells, getting jobs, and moving into employment and not simply becoming so discouraged that they move out of the labor force.”
“So that is a healthy development,” she said, “and, you know, while long-term unemployment remains at exceptionally high levels and is a grave concern, I do think we’re seeing improvements as the job market is strengthening.”
The BLS defines the “long-term unemployed” as those who are jobless for 27 weeks or more. According to the BLS, there were 3,081,000 Americans in June who were unemployed for 27 weeks or more. This number is up 14.2% from the 2,699,000 long-term unemployed Americans in January 2009.
While Yellen is technically correct that long-term unemployment has declined, this is taking into account only a few years of data. In Obama’s first year in office, from January 2009 to December 2009, the number of long-term unemployed Americans increased from 2,699,000 to 6,122,000, a rise of 126.8%.
Since then, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased from 6,122,000 in December 2009 to 3,081,000 in June 2014, a decrease of 49.7%.
However, since Obama has taken office until now in June 2014, the raw number of long-term unemployed Americans has increased 14.2%.
In her testimony, Yellen touted apparent improvements in the economy, saying, “the economy is continuing to make progress toward the Federal Reserve’s objectives of maximum employment and price stability. In the labor market, gains in total nonfarm payroll employment averaged about 230,000 per month over the first half of this year, a somewhat stronger pace than in 2013, and enough to bring the total increase in jobs during the economic recovery thus far to more than 9 million.”
“The unemployment rate has fallen nearly 1.5 percentage points over the past year and stood at 6.1 percent in June, “ she said, “down about four percentage points from its peak; measures of labor utilization have also registered notable improvements over the past year.”