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Extended unemployment benefits to end by Dec. 31

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, at 7:10 a.m.

Extended unemployment benefits, implemented because of the recession and long-term job loss, have been phasing out and are due to end completely by the end of the year.

As a result, workers who began receiving jobless benefits in July 2012 or after will not be eligible to receive additional federal benefits beyond what is granted by their states.

The maximum regular state benefit is 26 weeks in Kansas and 20 weeks in Missouri.

Dozens of worker advocacy groups say the end of extended benefits is a problem because long-term unemployment persists.

The national unemployment report for October said 4 in 10 unemployed persons — nearly 5 million — had been looking for work for 27 weeks or more, the official definition of long-term joblessness.

Benefits are scheduled to end for about 2 million of the unemployed by Dec. 31.

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, urges Congress to extend emergency unemployment compensation legislation.

“EUC allows workers to continue to cover their families’ basic expenses and in many cases enables workers to go through training programs so they can focus on their job search and re-enter the market with new and needed skills,” Owens said.

Many congressional Republicans oppose renewing the federal program on the grounds that extended benefits deter recipients from active job searching and that the expense is a further drain on the federal budget.

But economist Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, calculates that the extended benefits cutoff will cost almost twice as much in lost economic growth because of a reduction in consumer spending than the $44 billion it would cost the government to keep the program going for another year.

Groups lobbying for extended benefits hope that Congress will tack a year-long extension onto a larger bill that is likely to pass by the end of the year. The alternative would be a separate bill that would face more opposition.

Some Democrats in both the House and Senate support including extended benefits in the large deficit-reduction package. But the congressional “supercommittee” proposal for that package said it was unable to reach agreement by its Nov. 21 deadline.

The co-chairs issued a statement Wednesday that “we have come to the conclusion that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”

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