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WASHINGTON - In the coming weeks and months, hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans will exhaust their unemployment benefits, just when it's never been harder to find a job.
Congress extended unemployment aid twice last year, allowing people to draw a total of up to 59 weeks of benefits. Now, as the recession drags on, a rolling wave of people who were laid off early last year will lose them.
estimates that up to 700,000 people could exhaust their extended benefits by the second half of this year.
Some will find new jobs, but prospects will be grim:
the jobless rate, already at 8.5 percent, to hit 10 percent by year's end
"It's going to be a monstrous problem,"
U.S. employers shed 663,000 jobs in March
a net total of 5.1 million jobs have disappeared
taking on odd jobs, moving in with relatives
"My biggest fear is we'll lose the house,"
The jobs crisis it has created has proved worse than most economists forecast
In March, nearly a quarter of the unemployed had been without work for six months or more,
And the problem will probably get even worse
"What comes next, I'm afraid, will be the mother of all jobless recoveries," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, a consulting firm. "
"I'll work in McDonald's," he said
"It takes a little longer to fall asleep because of all the scenarios in your head," Uselton said.