Since the financial crash of 2008, there has been an expanded unemployment benefit that has carried many people over to their next job in an unstable market. Most states offer 26 weeks of unemployment, paid for by taxes collected by the state. The federal government has since provided a “booster” benefit, extending unemployment to up to 99 weeks during the months and years immediately following the crash. Today, most benefits last a bit longer than a year—around 63 weeks—and are in amounts larger than what the state can typically afford.
All that is set to change on December 28, when the benefits extension expires and everything reverts to as it was. According to RawStory.com, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said, “the Republican position all along has been ‘we need to go back to normal here at some point.’” No one disagrees with him that getting back to “normal” is the desired result, but many say that now is not the time.
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According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, President Obama is going to “urge Congress to extend longterm unemployment benefits,” when they return from the holiday break. The people whose benefits are being cut are still jobless. “These are not the people who caused the financial crisis,” said Gene Sperling, National Economic Council Director to reporters in Washington, D.C., “they are the victims of the financial crisis.” It is expected that 1.3 million people will lose their benefits at the start of the year, and an additional 850,000 will lose them in March.
Bloomberg writer Evan Soltas, describes what America can expect if these benefits are not extended, but comparing it to North Carolina, a state he’s been watching “since July, when it cut the maximum length of benefit from 99 weeks to just 19, and reduced the weekly check from $535 to $350.” He says that ultimately the people affected are left solely in the care of private charities, which are seeing increasing demand and decreasing support.