Congress is reportedly looking at providing another critical extension of unemployment benefits, either through the fiscal super committee (which is likely to deadlock) or in a bill extending a variety of tax and spending provisions. Of course, as the Hill reported, “some Republicans are expected to oppose extending the benefits,” just as they did the last several times and extension was brought up for a vote.
While an extension would do nothing for those who have already exhausted their maximum 99 weeks of benefits (depending on state), an extension would help people who are still eligible for their benefits up to 99 weeks or those who lose their jobs with the economy still incredibly weak. According to a report in the Associated Press, a majority of the unemployed are no longer eligible for jobless benefits:
The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.
Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent — a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.
As the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative showed last week, “in the third quarter of 2011 (the three month period from July to September), approximately 31.8 percent of the nearly 14 million Americans who were unemployed had been jobless for a year or more“:
During the recession, unemployment benefits have kept millions out of poverty. Those struggling with long-term unemployment — at a time when there are still more than four job seekers for every available position — not only need benefits, but help with job retraining. Meanwhile, far from helping to bolster the social safety net, Republicans in several states have cut back on unemployment benefits entirely.