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With unemployment at four-year low, fiscal cliff looms large for those still out of work

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics released unemployment numbers today that showed unemployment was at 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent. That is the lowest number since 2008.

However, some experts say today’s lower numbers may not reflect the true unemployment picture. Chris McCarty, director of the University of Florida bureau of economic research, said the numbers do not reflect those who are discouraged and gave up their job search.

“We’ve actually had several months on and off where unemployment has gone down just because people are leaving the labor force,” McCarty said.

Others, like Dwayne Couch, have not given up their search, but have not had success yet finding a new job.

Like 800,000 other out-of-work Floridians, Couch is receiving extended unemployment benefits and spends, as he says, hundreds of hours a month looking for work.

“I even tried to get a job working here at the apartments,” Couch said.

If Congress cannot come to an agreement on solving the fiscal cliff, Couch and thousands like him will lose the extended unemployment benefits.

“I’ve worked for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve pulled unemployment for an extended period, and that just doesn’t seem right to me,” Couch said.

About Matt Sheehan

Matt can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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