Most U.S. unemployed don't get benefits: Here's why

photo Recruiter Christina O, left, with New Western Acquisitions, meets with employment seekers during a job fair in Philadelphia in this June 23, 2014, file photo.

WASHINGTON - Even though the U.S. job market is gaining strength, there are still a lot of unemployed Americans. Yet only a fraction of them are receiving financial aid from the government.

Fewer than 25 percent of those out of work are signed up for weekly unemployment benefits, a near-record low since the government began tracking this data in 1987. That's a sharp turnaround from just after the recession, when as many as three-quarters of those out of work received help, a record high.

The drop counters a common assumption that most of those out of work receive unemployment benefits.