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Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

A staggering number of Americans continue to fall into a troubling labor market category: out of work for so long that regular unemployment programs have expired. And, that number is rising.

What it means: People are falling off the state unemployment rolls and likely getting work. But that’s being offset by people who are falling off because they are simply no longer eligible to collect state unemployment.

  • They’re transitioning to the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides 13 extra weeks of support.

What they’re saying: “The decline in continuing claims exaggerates the improvement in total employment," Conrad DeQuadros, an economist at Brean Economics, wrote in a note.

By the numbers: Roughly 160,000 more people moved onto PEUC in the week ending Oct. 24, bringing the total number of claimants to 4.1 million, according to the Department of Labor.

  • PEUC expires on Dec. 26, which will rip financial support out from right underneath millions of people (unless it’s extended by Congress, which appears unlikely).
  • The same is true for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for gig and freelance workers, where 9.4 million people are said to be collecting benefits.

What to watch: Over half a million people are tapping Extended Benefits, an option for eligible unemployed workers in most states that have exhausted regular state and PEUC benefits — 21,000 fewer people than last week.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 8, 2021 - Economy & Business

U.S. sheds 140,000 jobs in December, halting labor market recovery

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate held at 6.7%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The job market recovery that had been underway for the past seven months ended last month, buckling from the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic.

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.