Countdown to a new job ... 211 days

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's no wonder unemployed workers are getting discouraged: It's never taken longer to find a new job.

The unemployment rate fell to 9.7% in January, its lowest level since August. But the duration of unemployment reached an all-time high, according to the Labor Department's data, which dates back to 1948.

"While there are some positive signs in the jobs report, it's going to take time for the economy to recover and for hiring to pick up so people can get back to work," said Christine Riordan, a policy analyst with the National Employment Law Project.

Job seekers are now out of work for an average of 30.2 weeks, or 7-1/2 months, up from a record high of 29.1 weeks the previous month. In fact, the average duration of unemployment has notched new records for the last 10 months in a row.

With more than six job seekers for every job opening, it's not surprising that it's taking that long to find work, said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a research group based in Washington. "It's a very cruel game of musical chairs."

The danger though, is that more job seekers are at risk of seeing their unemployment benefits run out, which generally last up to 26 weeks before federal extensions kick in.

According to NELP's estimates, 11.5 million Americans are currently collecting some form of unemployment insurance but 1.2 million of those workers will no longer be eligible to collect as of March, when the current federal extensions are set to expire.

Unless Congress extends the unemployment safety net from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which is slated to expire at the end of the month, it will be increasingly hard to extricate ourselves from "a very, very deep jobs hole," NELP's Riordan said.

Overall, the Labor Department reported a loss of 20,000 in January -- much worse than expected. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected a net gain of 15,000 jobs. The economy has lost 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,350.96 88.40 0.54%
Nasdaq 4,054.16 20.00 0.50%
S&P 500 1,851.24 8.26 0.45%
Treasuries 2.66 0.03 1.10%
Data as of 10:36am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.92 -0.48 -2.90%
Yahoo! Inc 36.58 2.37 6.93%
Intel Corp 26.92 0.14 0.54%
Facebook Inc 58.53 -0.56 -0.95%
Microsoft Corp 40.25 0.50 1.26%
Data as of 10:21am ET
Sponsors

Sections

Bank of America still feeling fallout of mortgage crisis. It shares down 3% after quarterly loss. More

Observers are warning that risks of a blow up in China's property market are rising, threatening a slowdown that could hurt global growth. More

Yahoo is still in the midst of its turnaround, but investors liked what they saw in the company's first-quarter results. More

Schwinn, Trek and Cannondale are all iconic American bicycle brands. But none of them are made in the United States. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.