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Hundreds of people line up to register at a job fair sponsored by the Colorado state government. - 


Steve Chiotakis: That news, of course, that more than half a million people lost jobs in November. But who are the folks losing work? There's one survey out today that puts a human face on those stinging numbers and what the government can do to make it better. Here's Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: It's not easy being unemployed in this economy.

Maurice Emsellum is with the National Employment Law Project:

Maurice Emsellum: People end up cutting back on food, they end up losing their housing, moving in with family and friends, losing their cars.

Emsellum says long-term unemployment is growing, so retraining is critical. Legislation now stalled in Congress would help. The Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act would give states billions to expand benefits and training.

Economist Carey Leahy of Decision Economics agrees something should be done. But he says unemployment shouldn't be too appealing.

Carey Leahy: If you know you'll get aid for a long period of time, you're going to take your time finding the right jobs.

Still, he says the legislation is a step in the right direction, because it encourages retraining. The bill has passed the House, but not the Senate.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.