NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of Americans suffering through long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high, according to a study released Thursday.
More than 30% of the 14 million Americans who were on unemployment rolls in December have been there longer than a year, the Pew Charitable Trusts said, an increase of 25% over last year.
The totals are eye-popping, and translate into more than 4.2 million people, or roughly the total population of Kentucky.
But there is a glimmer of good news, as December's total is a decrease of 200,000 from August 2010.
But for the unemployed, those figures offer little relief. The amount of federal money spent on unemployment insurance benefits is set to decline, according to data from the Congressional Budget Office. Total federal spending on both long- and short-term unemployment benefits will fall to $129 billion in fiscal year 2011, a $30 billion decrease from the previous year.
Among the factors contributing to the decline: The expiration of a $25 weekly supplemental benefit that was part of the Recovery Act, and the fact that benefits are now being denied to people unemployed more than 99 weeks. On a more positive note, another reason spending is expected to fall is increased economic activity, which should cause a general drop in claims.
According to a CNNMoney analysis of federal records, unemployed Americans have collected $319 billion in jobless benefits over the past three years due to the federal government's unprecedented response to the Great Recession.
The Pew analysis indicates the high long-term unemployment rate cuts across nearly every industry, and disproportionately affects older workers.
Coke debuted limited edition "proud to be an American" cans in collaboration with the USO. More
The FBI has opened a national security investigation into the hacking of Bangladesh's central bank amid signs that the hack might have come from North Korea. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
The gender pay gap in the labor market is pretty well documented. But the gender gap also exists in the housing market. More