Lakeshore News Tonight

Some Unemployment Benefits to End This Week

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December 27, 2013 by Hilary Powell

After this week some United States’ unemployed workers are set to lose a financial lifeline that provides vital aid while out of a job.

Government officials say federal unemployment benefits for more than 1.3-million people will expire this weekend because Congress has yet to extend them.

United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says this is the wrong time to cut off a critical lifeline for struggling workers.  The national unemployment rate is 7%;  Indiana’s rate is higher at 7.3%.

Secretary Perez says the numbers show the average out-of-work U.S. worker is unemployed for 36 weeks and that many people are exhausting both state and federal benefits before they stop looking for work, “The program requires you to continue to look for work as a condition of receipt of long-term unemployment benefits so it actually helps to maintain attachment to the workforce for people who are long-term unemployed.  It is a reality that Republicans and Democrats have recognized over decades. This program has always been a lifeline.”

The secretary said that a three-to-six-month extension of the program would cost an estimated $6-billion.  Advisers to the President say economic need warrants the cost.

“Not only do those people need support, but supporting them is good for the economy as well,” says Council of Economic Adviser Member Betsey Stevenson.

Though the future of unemployment benefits are in limbo, the need for unemployment benefits locally continues to swell.  The state’s department of labor reports that nearly 1500 new claims for unemployment were filed in December.  State officials attribute the filings to layoffs in the construction and manufacturing industries.


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