As the New York Times pointed out yesterday, federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for the long-term unemployed continue to wind down. Payments through the Extended Benefit (EB) program will cease in two more states (New York and West Virginia) and in Washington, D.C., in early June, according to the Department of Labor’s latest data. As we’ve explained previously, benefits are ending in these states not because economic conditions have improved, but because they have not significantly deteriorated in the past three years. Federal UI benefits have always been temporary, ending when the economy is back on track and job opportunities are starting to open up — but not before. And though private employment has grown for more than two years, the Labor Department’s most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure — which counts people who are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for a job — stands at 14.5 percent (
). That figure is much higher than at the start of the recession or, before that, than any time for which we have available data, dating back to 1994. Long-term unemployment also remains at record levels. The table below reflects the latest estimates of the number of people who will have lost EB benefits by June. As I’ve noted before, the number of weeks of UI benefits available is shrinking, and beneficiaries will be eligible for even fewer once the first round of Emergency Unemployment Compensation reductions takes effect at the end of the June.