Job Market Polarized, Middle Class Paralyzed

An article in the Washington Post today exposed a growing problem that parallels the economic downturn in America. In his article, Michael Fletcher speaks to the growing level of middle class individuals who are experiencing long-term unemployment:

"In November, nearly 1.4 million people -- almost one in five of those unemployed -- had been jobless for at least 27 weeks, the juncture when unemployment insurance benefits end for most recipients. That is about twice the level of long-term unemployment before the 2001 recession."

In the wake of the housing market crisis and prospects of recession, America's relatively low unemployment rates have masked concern for this development. Yet Fletcher finds that this growing number of long-term unemployment is indicative of a polarizing labor market; strong on the top and bottom, demand is weak for the jobs in the middle.

Concern has sparked attention on the Hill and in presidential campaigns as fiscal policy and an economic stimulus package remain a top priority. This is evident in both Clinton's and Obama's fiscal stimulus proposal, which calls for some $10 billion to extend and expand the Unemployment Insurance program.