A new report by the U.S. Labor Department found that 44% of the nation's 15 million unemployed -- more than 6.5 million people -- have been without a job for more than six months, shattering the previous high of 26% in June 1983. As a result, unemployment benefits could hit $168 billion this year -- five times higher than in years before the recession. "I'm particularly concerned about that statistic, because long spells of unemployment erode skills and lower the longer-term income and employment prospects of these workers," said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

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