Long-term unemployment benefits expiring for 1.3M Americans - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Long-term unemployment benefits expiring for 1.3M Americans

Updated:
WASHINGTON, DC -

A lifeline for more than one million Americans who have been without work for more than six months expires Saturday.

The extension of long-term unemployment benefits failed to make its way into the bipartisan budget bill signed by President Obama Thursday night.

The benefits average around $300 a week, and for the people losing that cash flow, it's going to hurt.

The emergency benefits created in response to the recession five years ago have given millions of Americans who are unable to find work the cushion they needed. But come Saturday, long-term unemployment insurance will disappear.

"Once their state benefits run out and that's enabled them to pay their mortgages, pay for heating, buy food, those benefits will come to an abrupt end," said Christine Owens, National Employment Law Project.

Economists warn the cuts won't just hurt the unemployed. It could slow the entire country's economic recovery.

The group Americans United for Change is out with an ad attacking Republicans, who largely opposed extending the benefits as part of the budget deal reached this month.

In January, senators are expected to vote on a bill that would extend the benefits for three months. But many Republicans are already promising to oppose it.

"If people think we need two years of unemployment insurance, they should come forward and say we want to raise the taxes and contributions of employers and employees," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Critics of the unemployment extension say the economy is improving and worry continuing these benefits will only increase dependency on the government.

According to a new poll, 55 percent of Americans want Congress to extend the benefits. Only 33 percent do not.

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