More than one million workers will lose their unemployment benefits in January unless Congress renews the stimulus act’s Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, according to a study by the National Employment Law Project and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
States normally offer 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act extended these benefits to between 34 and 53 weeks, the length of time determined by the severity of the state’s unemployment rate. In November, Congress increased the amount of time again, providing all states at least 14 additional weeks of benefits and states with unemployment rates 8.5 percent or higher 20 additional weeks. But the program was not renewed when coverage was extended. It expires at the end of the month.
Groups urging Congress to renew the benefits say that losing the aid could bring families on the brink to eviction and foreclosure.
If the program is not renewed, 53,048 Missourians will lose federal unemployment benefits between January and March, according to the study. Nationwide, more than 3.2 million will be affected.
The study also recommended that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act’s Extended Benefits programs be expanded. If Congress doesn’t renew these permanent extension programs, they will end in 26 states. Missouri is included in this group of states that will only make the programs available if the federal government pays the bills. The stimulus also gives a $25 per week benefit to workers who have lost their jobs.
It will cost about $100 billion to renew the unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for the long-term jobless through 2010.
Last week, the government released numbers showing the rate of unemployment in November to be 10 percent, down from October’s 10.2 percent.
Despite reduced unemployment last month, economists predict that recovery will be slow and that rates will continue to rise until employers begin hiring aggressively enough to push them down. That might not happen until the middle of next year. Some areas of the country, including Kansas City, that have technology, health care and government jobs might recover more quickly.
Columbia’s unemployment dropped to 5.9 percent in October. That’s down 0.4 percentage points from September’s 6.3 percent.
How can the government best mitigate the effects of unemployment for Americans?