Annie Lowrey, who has been covering the 99ers for Slate and the former Washington Independent, has a new article online:
"...the recession has not meant just more joblessness. It has also meant longer joblessness. The average length of a spell of unemployment now sits at 30 weeks, after hitting a high of 35 weeks in July. About 6.3 million people, 42 percent of all unemployed Americans, have been out of work for more than six months. And more than 1 million have exhausted their unemployment benefits. They're called 99ers. (The term, coined this year, refers to the maximum weeks of benefits in the states with the highest unemployment rates.) There are about 1.6 million of them, according to the Department of Labor. And they raise the question: What happens when unemployment insurance ends?
The article continues by profiling a 99er from the Boston area, a woman named Rochelle Sevier:
At first, Sevier fell victim to her experience: She was overqualified for the jobs she was applying for. "I started applying for minimum-wage jobs, but they said they wouldn't hire me, because when the economy gets better, I'd leave them." Then, she fell victim to her own joblessness: Employers just don't like to hire people who have been out of work for long, she says. "I need a job now, and I just think that these companies have to stop prejudging us [99ers]. If anything, they should be hiring us because we have experience—I mean, I've got a master's—and we'll work harder." So Sevier, like millions of others, has applied for the aid she can get: food stamps ("I'm so embarrassed. I never thought I'd have to do that") and heating-fuel assistance ("It's cold").