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Two Million Americans Could Lose Unemployment Benefits — Dollars and Sense

Hemera, Thinkstock

Federal unemployment benefits are set to run out this holiday season for over 2 million Americans out there still looking for work. Their only chance for survival is if Congress decides to extend the deadline for them to file for an extension for those benefits. However, with amendments to the program made already earlier this year, the outcome appears very bleak.

In February 2012 Congress extended the unemployment insurance deadline but amended the fine print of the program. Now because of those changes, some 1 million people will no longer be entitled to federal benefits within the first quarter of 2013.

The problem is that with focus finally off the presidential election, more lawmakers are buckling down in an attempt to address the grand scheme of this country’s economic issues. Unfortunately for the jobless, those issues are making lawmakers a little skittish to extend the filing deadline for the 10th time since the economic downturn began five years ago.

The federal benefits package was put into place in June 2008, allowing Americans to receive 47 weeks of unemployment benefits from the federal government after they exhausted six months of payments from their state. President Obama extended those benefits to 99 weeks in 2009. As of right now, those benefits have been reduced to a maximum of 73 weeks, with all states except New York ineligible to receive federally extended benefits.

Advocates for these benefits say that unemployment is still too high to block another extension. “Federal unemployment insurance goes to Americans who’ve been out of work the longest and need it the most,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “It’s a key part of any realistic plan to get America’s economy moving and the least we can do for those who have been hurt the most.”


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