Federal jobless benefits expire for millions

December 1, 2010

WASHINGTON — Long term federal unemployment benefits expired Dec. 1 for hundreds of thousands of jobless as the lame-duck Congress failed to take action to extend them. Millions more will lose benefits if Congress does not act.

Federal unemployment benefits had begun after an initial 26 weeks of state-provided jobless benefits.

If Congress does not extend those federal benefits, the 26 weeks of state-provided unemployment benefits will be the maximum for most American jobless, although individual states can provide additional assistance.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that there are five applicants for every available job.

The Associated Press, quoting the National Employment Law Project, says 26 states will phase out extended benefits between Dec. 4 and Jan. 1.

Ten states, however, guarantee some extended benefits when unemployment is high, no matter what Congress does. They are Alaska, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington state.

The Labor Department, according to the Associated Press, estimates that 635,000 jobless will lose federal unemployment benefits this week; an additional 1.6 million will lose them by Christmas; and 3.29 million jobless Americans will be cutoff by Jan. 29, if Congress does not act.

The Associated Press said that those who run out of jobless benefits must depend on food stamps. The number of food stamp recipients is already at a record-high 42.4 million, said the Associated Press.