THE NEW POOR

Americans Unemployed for Years

With the job market still foundering, Americans who lost their jobs are facing difficulties getting back on their feet after long stretches of unemployment. Safety-net programs like unemployment insurance, which Congress has extended for longer periods than normal, are still running out before people find new jobs, leaving roughly 2.7 million people without aid if Congress doesn't extend them again in April. “We’re looking at the very real possibility of being homeless,” a California woman whose benefits have run out told The New York Times. With welfare programs changed to emphasize finding work in the mid-1990s, many are finding them inadequate in the current climate. “We have a work-based safety net without any work,” Timothy M. Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, told the Times.