The U.S. Senate is moving toward extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed this week, after a 60-37 vote to move on to full debate of the legislation, despite Republican opposition.
Long-term unemployment (being jobless for more than six months) is still a huge problem, but it's been quickly becoming less of a problem in the past three years. This chart is built using data available from the BLS here:
At just over 4 million Americans unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, the problem of long-term unemployment has been easing, but it's still a bigger issue than it's been at any time in history. The most severe spell of long-term unemployment was after the recession in 1982, but that now looks like a blip compared to the Great Recession.
The problem looks even worse when you see what share of the unemployed are considered long-term unemployed:
More than a third of the officially unemployed have been so for six months or longer.
One note on the data: I used the November figure for each year, since that's the most recent figure available.