How many people are projected to stop receiving unemployment benefits on Dec. 28. Darker shading corresponds to states where a higher proportion of the population is affected. (Source: Committee on Ways and Means Democrats/Labor Department.)
As Congress leaves town, it will have one significant achievement under its belt and at least one item already on its “to do” list when it returns: whether to do anything about the extended unemployment benefits that expire on Dec. 28 for some 1.3 million people.
Democrats want to keep the additional benefits alive, and Republicans are open to the idea as well, within limits.
“When the White House finally called me last Friday about extending unemployment benefits, I said we would clearly consider it, as long as it’s paid for and as long as there are other efforts that will help get our economy going again,” House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters this week. “I have not seen a plan from the White House that meets those standards.”
The plight of those out of work the longest has vexed economists and policymakers. Is this a structural problem — one that may not be remedied easily — or is it just part of a normal post-recession ebb and flow? How can those particular job-seekers overcome the statistics — the fact that just by being out of work for an extended period puts them at a disadvantage in getting a new job and takes a psychological toll as well.
Congress did not address the issue of maintaining the extended benefits in the budget deal they passed this week, but Democrats have vowed to pursue it once they’re back in town next month.
At the top of this post, we’ve included a state-by-state map of how many people will see those benefits expire immediately and how many more will see the aid dry up in the first half of next year unless Congress acts. The map also shows how many weeks of benefits will be available to any newly unemployed people. The data was compiled by the Committee on Ways and Means Democrats from Labor Department data.