This month marks the end of the federal extended unemployment insurance benefits program for 35 states with the nation’s highest jobless rates. More than half a million long-term jobless workers have lost their unemployment lifeline.
The end of the program that provided up to 20 additional weeks of jobless benefits—in addition to the states’ usual 26 weeks—and the additional weeks available under the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation, was part of legislation passed in February. That legislation reduced the number of weeks of available to jobless workers and also changed the formulas that would trigger extra federal jobless benefits, in effect, cutting benefits even further by setting higher thresholds for unemployment pain.
USA Today reports the cuts "are nudging some Americans into poverty, straining social services just as states and localities face their own budget woes and further crimping weak economic growth as those who lose benefits spend less."
The average unemployed American has been out of work 40 weeks, according to the Labor Department, and there are still about three jobless people for every job opening.