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More than 1 million Americans are bracing for a harrowing, post-Christmas jolt as extended federal unemployment benefits come to a sudden halt this weekend, entailing potentially significant implications for the recovering U.S. economy and setting up a tense battle when Congress reconvenes in the new year. For families dependent on cash assistance, the end of the federal government's "emergency unemployment compensation" will mean some difficult belt-tightening as enrollees lose their average monthly stipend of $1,166. Jobless rates could drop, but analysts say the economy may suffer with less money for consumers to spend on everything from clothes to cars. Having let the "emergency" program expire as part of a budget deal, it's unclear if Congress has the appetite to start it anew. An estimated 1.3 million people will be cut off when the federally funded unemployment payments end Saturday. Some 214,000 Californians will lose their payments, a figure rising to more than a half-million by June, the Labor Department said. In the last 12 months Californians received $4.5 billion in federal jobless benefits, much put back into the local economy. More than 127,000 New Yorkers also will be cut off this weekend. In New Jersey, 11th among states in population, 90,000 people will immediately lose out.
The Obama administration says those payments have kept 11.4 million people out of poverty and benefited almost 17 million children. The cost of them since 2008 has totaled $225 billion. At the depth of the recession, laid off workers could qualify for up to 99 weeks of benefits, including the initial 26 weeks provided by states. The most recent extension allowed a total of up to 73 weeks, depending on the state.
I don’t see this as a partisan issue.