States Lost $400 Million In One Week Because Congress Let Unemployment Benefits Expire

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Congress went home for Christmas without extending long-term unemployment insurance, leaving 1.3 million people in the lurch. The damage, however, extends far past these unemployed Americans. State economies lost $400 million in one week thanks to Congressional inaction on unemployment benefits, according to a new report from the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Republicans have historically supported unemployment benefits, as individuals must continue looking for work in order to receive them. However, some GOP lawmakers have signaled they will use this lifeline as leverage to extract more spending cuts.

If Republicans refuse to extend benefits, they will likely face backlash from their constituents, particularly in states that are suffering the heaviest economic losses. California lost about $65 million this week. Illinois, Florida, New York, and New Jersey also took eight-figure hits. Texas, which lost nearly $22 million, can thank its senior senator, John Cornyn (R-TX), for blocking a vote to extend benefits twice.

The long-term unemployed already struggle more than others to get back to work, as research suggests prospective employers won’t even look at resumes of people who have been unemployed for more than six months. Even after managing to get hired, the period of unemployment will suppress their earnings for the rest of their lives, as well as hurt their chances at future homeownership.

If unemployment benefits are not restored, the Congressional Budget Office estimates a loss of about 200,000 jobs this year due to reduced consumer spending.