Here’s how unemployment insurance will soon shrink, in two simple maps

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has created a handy way to visualize the big changes to unemployment insurance that are coming down the pike on Dec. 28. Now that Congress has declined to extend emergency jobless aid for another year, benefits for millions are set to expire early next year.

The first map shows the program in its current incarnation. Thanks to an emergency federal aid program that's been in place since the recession started, many states can offer up to 63 or 73 weeks of jobless benefits (depending, in part, on local economic conditions):

ui_map_with_noheader

But Congress has allowed that federal aid program to expire. So, come Dec. 28, the maximum length of time that states can offer jobless benefits will drop to 26 weeks or less:

ui_map_without_noheader

How will that affect people? Starting at the end of the year, some 1.3 million people who have been getting benefits for longer than 26 weeks (or less, in some states) will get cut off immediately. Then, over the course of the year, other unemployed workers will fall out of the program once they hit 26 weeks (or less, in some states). All told, CBPP estimates, 4.9 million people will get unemployment aid than they would under an extension:

12-12-13bud

Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has said he wants to take up a one-year extension of the emergency unemployment compensation program when Congress is back in session Jan. 1. An extension along those lines would cost roughly $25.1 billion, and the benefits would be rewarded retroactively to those 1.3 million unemployed workers.

Still, the odds of that passing are much smaller now that the program was left out of the budget deal struck between Rep. Paul Ryan (R) and Sen. Patty Murray (D).

Update/Correction: The second map originally had Oklahoma and New Jersey mislabeled. It's been fixed.

Further reading: Here's a longer discussion of long-term unemployment with Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute.

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Timothy B. Lee · December 12, 2013

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