On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department will release its monthly report on employment. No matter what top numbers are, the number of long-term unemployed continues at unacceptably high levels, slow to decline in a skittish job market.

That's what makes groups like Joseph's People, a church-based network for the unemployed, so important. The organization, started at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, in Downingtown, during two recessions ago, now has 11 chapters, mostly in the Philadelphia suburbs. It combines prayer, job hunting workshops and emotional support, and offers all services for free.

"We have opened our first chapter out of the Philadelphia area, in Pittsburgh," wrote Cheryl Spaulding, one of Joseph's People's co-founders. "On the one hand I am happy to see our model used elsewhere, on the other hand I wish it were not necessary."

I also was reminded of another networking group, this one titled the Business Executives Networking Group. The organization, which costs $35 a year to join, describes itself as specializing in mid and senior executives.