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“Jobless Americans Left Desperate as Long-Term Unemployment Benefits Expire”

While US lawmakers spar over extending unemployment benefits, out-of-work Americans could wake up on December 28 to find themselves unable to afford life’s basic necessities.

Barring last-minute action by Congress, the long-term  unemployment insurance program will expire on Saturday, leaving  1.3 million Americans to fend for themselves as they continue to  look for jobs in an economy that’s still recovering.


For many unemployed individuals, these benefits are the only  safety net they have, and they’re the only things keeping them  from sliding into poverty.

One Michigan woman in danger of losing her benefits, Linda  Sandefur, told NPR that without her unemployment check, she would  be unable to pay the mortgage on her house, which she shares with  her mother.

“I have a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree, 20 years of  work experience,” she said. “This is like my third  go-around on unemployment. And for me, the American dream is  dead.”


Sandefur isn’t the only one using benefits to keep a roof over  her head, however, as many unemployed Americans rely on their  weekly paychecks to stay sheltered, pay medical bills, and put  food on the table.

“Even though it’s a struggle to buy food and everything, it  means that I am keeping the lights on and I’m keeping food in the  house, sometimes just barely but I’m able to do that,” Ellen  Andrews, a New Yorker and mother of one, said to ABC News.  “It’s keeping me afloat until I can get to that next  job.”

Meanwhile, limited job training and career-changing opportunities  have others wondering what options actually exist for those  who’ve been out of the job market for so long. Massillon, Ohio  man Mike Lutz already lost his home once in a foreclosure back in  2010, and now he’s on his second round of unemployment  assistance. He’s pessimistic about the future for those who don’t  already have skills that are in demand.

“What choices are you giving people because there’s not  really work out there to have. … If they cut (benefits) off the  way they’re talking about, I don’t see a lot of opportunities for  the labor force,” he said to local CantonRep.com. “Maybe  if you’re college-educated and you got good computer skills or  accounting skills, it might not affect you so bad. But for  someone who builds houses, builds roads, those jobs aren’t really  out there.”

But while the fate of the unemployment assistance program hangs  in the air, the impact of expiring benefits could have serious  consequences for the lives of Americans and the U.S. economy.


According to President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic  Advisors and the Labor Department, failure to extend benefits  towards those unemployed longer than 26 weeks could cost the U.S.  economy about 240,000 jobs. A report drafted by the council noted  that Congress has never allowed benefits to expire with the  unemployment rate where it is today, at 7.3 percent.

Meanwhile, a report by the Washington Post stated that 4 million  people – college graduates, married individuals with families,  the elderly, and more – have remained jobless for 27 weeks or  more. That number is lower than it was at the peak of the Great  Recession, but it’s still the highest level it’s been at since  World War II.

Additionally, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities expects  nearly five million people to see their benefits disappear  entirely before they can find a job over the next year.

Many Republicans have balked at authorizing another extension for  the program. Some believe it depresses job creation by reducing  the incentive to find work. With some states offering up to 73  weeks of unemployment aid, other Republicans believe it’s time to  bring the program back down to its traditional size.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled  a procedural vote on a three-month extension in early January,  but it’s unclear whether he can garner enough support to pass the  measure, or whether the Republican-controlled House of  Representatives would approve the extension should it make its  way to the chamber.

Until then, however, unemployed Americans are hoping to get by  just long enough to have a decent chance to find a good job, and  to create a decent life for themselves and their families.


Source: RT.Com




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