Congressional Scrooges Deny Unemployment Benefit Extension

The latest budget deal does not extend unemployment benefits for some of the long term unemployed.   This means without some Congressional action, unemployment benefits will only be available for 26 weeks in 2014.  The current average time to be officially unemployed is 37.2 weeks, far exceeding the time one can receive regular unemployment insurance benefits in most states.  Congress of course is off to enjoy their Christmas while 1.3 million people are kicked off the unemployment benefit rolls on December 28th.  The 113th Congressional session is scheduled to end December 20th, so off they go to their million dollar homes and warm yuletide fires while 1.3 million more people are kicked to the curb.  There are over four million official unemployed who have been so over 27 weeks.

President Obama has given any possible extension the kiss of death by making a speech about it as we know Congress loves to ignore what the President wants.  This time Obama is right, this is a terrible holiday message.  Ho, ho, ho, out into the street you go!  The Congressional Christmas gift is to deny unemployment benefits to approximately 1.3 million recipients immediately and cut off another 3.6 million recipients by the end of 2014,  America gets an additional lump of coal as refusal to extend benefits will have a negative economic impact on the overall economy as well.  The White House at least is strong on making their case, they released a white paper full of facts and figures to prove helping the long-term unemployed is good for America.

The emergency unemployment compensation program was enacted in 2008 and extended unemployment up to 73 weeks.  Below is a map of current total unemployment benefit weeks and all of this is about to disappear for 2014.  Think about that fact while contemplating the official unemployed has remained at amazingly high levels.  There are about 11 million official unemployed and this figure has remained static for some time.  Beyond the official tally, there are millions more potential American workers who have dropped out of the count and not even considered in the official unemployment statistics.  Hiring in America has only increased 24% since the height of the Great Recession, now over four years ago.


emergency unemployment compensation map


Unemployment benefits are a stimulus and the DOL estimates if benefits are not extended it will cost the United States an additional 240,000 jobs by the end of 2014.  The CBO estimates extending EUC through 2014 would cost $26 billion,yet raise 2014 real GDP by 0.2 percentage points.  In other words, beyond helping millions of long term unemployed, the money spent is stimulative, meaning we get some of this money back in increased economic growth.

While the outrage over Congress' lack of action to help the long term unemployed roils and boils, the reality is 49.7% of those who have lost their jobs and even apply for UI get unemployment benefits in the first place.  The average benefit is just $300 a week, hardly enough to make a mortgage payment with.  Among the official unemployed there are over four million who have been so 27 weeks or longer.  If one counts the disenfranchised, the estimate is much higher.  Worse than that, due to employer discrimination, only about 10% of the official long-term uenemployed find a job per month.  It is still a terrible job market, yet for the long-term unemployed they face discrimination and rejection at every turn from U.S. employers.

While the focus has always been on funding unemployment insurance, no attention has been given to those who are not able to get benefits, even though, obviously they should.  Many states have a minimum number of hours required to work and these days of willy-nilly firings, part-time jobs and temporary positions means many cannot qualify for benefits.  If one is an adult, this means the only benefit left is food stamps.  There is no help with shelter.  You're out in the street if one is not lucky enough to have friends or family to provide a couch.  Another new holiday season tradition from employers is not the year end bonus, but a pink slip.  The holiday season often brings doom and gloom to workers as 31% of layoffs occur in Q4.  In other words, the past holiday bonus and thanks for being our loyal employee has been replaced with a you're fired pink slip in the company Christmas stocking.

Worse, immigration influxes do effect labor markets, it is a simple law of supply and demand.  Very obviously the demand for U.S. workers is still piss-poor and the U.S. labor market cannot absorb a massive wave of increased worker supply.  Obama has been hell bent on flooding the U.S. labor market with even more workers while millions of Americans cannot find a job, and this figure includes millions with advanced degrees and technical skills.  While the fight for unemployment benefits continues, instead of offering businesses tax incentives to hire, train and retain U.S. workers, we get another bad trade deal.  Instead of rebuilding U.S. infrastructure with American workers and American goods, we get the Department of Defense budget funded to the tune of $632.8 billion.  This is over half of the total $1.012 trillion budget for fiscal year 2014.

One would expect the ghost of Christmas past to visit Congress and wake them up.  Yet with lobbyists and gerrymandered districts, they seem to be impervious to everything, especially empathy for the U.S. worker.  While Congress enjoys their yule tide log, the poor American worker match girl is once again left out in the cold.  Merry Christmas America!  Remember to go shop and ignore the estimated 2.5 million homeless huddled on the street corner.



Thank You for This Excellent, Well-Written Article

Robert, Yours is the best article written on unemployment and labor I've read in ages. I'm part of the long-term unemployed, and waiting anxiously to see if my already limited unemployment benefits will be extended in the new year.

What makes your article all the more relevant, is your courage to mention the immigration factor. The United States takes in 1.1 LEGAL immigrants per year--a massive figure, yet it does not include illegal immigrants, and those who arrive on "temporary" work, student, and other visas. While immigrants of course did not create America's legal problems, the reality is they need jobs just like the rest of us, and America can only grow so big and maintain its (steadily declining) standard of living. In short, the pie is only so big.

Thank you again, and please keep writing!

Portland, Oregon, USA


Nice article and straight to the point on how congress is ignoring the U.S. Citizens. There are a lot of homeless people in America and congress may add more to the ranks.

Agree. The lawmakers say that

Agree. The lawmakers say that helping the unemployed who are so due to no fault of their own by giving them more time until they finally get a job offer costs them too much money. Well, how about if those same people end up homeless, enter the group of the food stamps recipients, applicants for fully subsidized health care and other down to poverty level benefits because they end up with no other choice, will not all of this cost them a lot more money in the end? And not talking about more crime that will require more money to keep the streets and neighborhoods safe, etc, etc, etc? Those intelligent people are not as bright as they think they are, after all!

I have worked since 16. I am

I have worked since 16. I am a professional and was laid off in June. I send 100 emails a day network but the job prospects for a 53 year old unemployed worker are dim. I hear the word overqualified so much I am thinking of getting my first tattoo- if I could afford it. Ny unemployment of 405 is laughable especially as conn. And nj are over 600. Thanks gov coumo. The political discourse on this has been outrageous ..from paul saying that I just need more incentive to work and Ryan saying giving me extension is a disservice to me from comments saying we all prefer not to work. I am a republican but no republican will ever get my vote again. Pelosi embrace the suck isn't much better. I am scared. I have applied for jobs at 1/2 my former salary, I just don't understand how they think me going on welfare and Medicaid will help the economy

2014 Unemployment benefits

I wish that Congress would pass it before they leave office for their Christmas vacation. The rest of us on benefits that expire soon will NOT have a Christmas...please help us out. I have worked for 40 years and now I am jobless and depend on benefits or I will be homeless for the new year.

always find your writing

always find your writing exceptional and close at home...greed lives well and growing year by year. the poor will only get more poor. so it really means that we will only get more hungry year by year.

ps. they managed to get the banks bailed out again a few days before this...! wtf, seems who is more important....


Very well written article. It

Very well written article. It says it all! "... refusal to extend benefits will have a negative economic impact on the overall economy as well." Very true! This weekend an unemployed friend of mine unwrapped all the little gifts she had bought to her family for Christmas, took all back to the stores she had bought them from, and returned them. She said that that money would be a life saving to put the food on the table for her family, especially for Christmas. It was heart breaking. No job is safe to anyone (only for the politicians...). Anyone can end up in the unemployment line, and be left with 26 weeks or less to get a job to put food on the table and keep the roof over his/head. And I say, ANYONE! God bless America, as God is needed...

Mass Suicide for Unemployed who can't get extension

There are no jobs for us unemployed who are 60 yrs. old or older. No one wants to hire us because they can get younger people to fill the jobs. With no unemployment extension there will be NO happiness for the holidays & next year we will end up homeless & starving on the streets. Congress doesn't care, they get their big fat paychecks for doing nothing but causing the US citizens heartache and despair. So I say we should all commit MASS SUICIDE and maybe then congress will actually do something positive for the US citizens!

Suicide is letting them win

Ghandi, Martin Luther King both showed the effectiveness of non-violent protest. What America needs is for all of us to stand together against the economic genocide that is going on in this country. Right now the control technique is to divide and conquer. Working people are pitted against each other by conservative and liberal terminology. The reality is the U.S. middle class has been wiped out, economic inequality is at an all time high and in spite of some politicians using that rhetoric, they are not doing anything to make the situation better.

If you harm yourself, you silence your oh so important voice forever. What needs to happen is America needs to be heard. Occupy Wall Street was systematically shut down by a coordinated effort between Federal and local governments. What America needs is every one working for a living to stand in solidarity and demand policy, action for jobs, jobs, jobs, higher wages and better working conditions, retirement that cannot be raided and a better social safety net.

This isn't a political philosophy, it is practical, what works, what has been proved to work in the past. America needs jobs, income and work needs to be the most important element in our society. Good work, well paying work for all.

In particular people who are over 40 and those under 30, the U.S. needs to enforce age discrimination laws. People live much longer and are able bodied way past 65, unlike the past. Employers and policy makers need to get on the ball and recognize the new life spans and how longer lives need longer work lives. Young need work and the time to train, learn, grow into the job.

This was standard up to the start of squeezing workers, firing them, layoffs, which really went into full force starting with Reagan firing the Air control tower workers. That gave the message it was open season on workers and work in America.

Harming oneself does nothing except insure the bastards win.


NO, NO, NO! Disagree! Cruel people are the ones who should punish themselves for their heartless actions, not the ones who suffer from the wrong doings of others. I say: Stand tall, strong, and fight to get all the crooks out of power. Even if you are 105, you will always have something important you can contribute with the right cause. Nobody needs to die because of cruel acts, but those who abuse of the power they have must have it taken away from them. The jobless may not have a job or may have lost or about to lose "everything:, but this is not the end. It could be just the beginning. Chin up, and fight to get things straight. In God We Trust...God's power is still bigger than those in Congress...

Mass Suicide....

Mass suicide? HELL NO! That's exactly what they WANT us to do. I say stay alive and vote the M-Fs out of the office they have proven they are too incompetent to hold.

Same thing with taking your Social Security early at age 62 - for many of us, with no jobs, there will be no choice but to take it sooner rather than later. Yes you lose some money, but mostly the government tells you to wait to take it because they are hoping you will die before they have to pay you.

So screw them - outlive the bastards.

I just spent all day trying to sign up for the Affordable Health Care Act and found out that because I am on unemployment and possibly will segue into early Social Security, I will qualify for a full subsidy of $610 a month toward the plan of my choice which is $563. I may even get some money back as a tax refund at the end of the year. I am also considering a job offer that pays $36,000 a year but has no health benefits. So guess what? After losing my subsidy (because now I will make too much), and figuring out my gross vs. net salary, I actually come out over $4,000 ahead if I DON'T take the job. Those benefits are a huge expense, and a company plan is always better than a private plan. This is what working has been reduced to in this country. 40 years of experience and I have to take a piece of shit job with no benefits. A disgrace.

Your solution is backwards.

Remember the movie Patton? The way to win the war is to make the other poor dumb bastard die for HIS country. So in your equation, if people need to die, it shoud be the politicians that are cutting the benefits and bringing misery to not only the recipients but everyone else.

That would have the immediate effect of job openings to be filled with people who understand that this is a problem with lack of demand, which this current Congressional action makes worse, people who would most certainly do something better.

Seems like a two-birds with one stone kinda thing...

Happy Holidays!!

mass suicide

They would just dig a nice deep grave and although they've already buried us, they would enjoy actually throwing on the dirt!


Robert I really liked your article. At least you asked the big question what are the unemployed to do without the extensions. Jobs are limited...I'm the only one in my house getting money. My husband has not been able to find work either. The fat cats are not worried they have heat, food, gifts for their kids, & other essentials needed to live. I'm tired of telling my kids they can't do this or that because the money we have is to pay bills & keep the house. We are below water & sinking fast!!! Congress needs to think how this will effect the country!!! They really want a GREAT DEPRESSION again!!! People sleeping in the streets..are they willing to take some in? Hell no, Just one poor working stiff to get stiffed again!!!

Thank you Robert for capturing my story

Ending my EUC benefits will mean a “lean” Christmas i.e. no presents for my family.

I have benefited from this federally funded extension, in that I still have my home…

I worked full time (plus frequent simultaneous side jobs) for 42 years. In November 2011 I was laid off; my job and the jobs of 130 co-workers went to India via IBM, an IT contractor hired by my company.

Between 4/30/2012 and 12/10/2013 I have applied for 242 positions, all of them resulted in “Not Hired”. My local unemployment rate (Deschutes County, Oregon) is 8.9%. We're still planted firmly in this great "recession".


Well written and exactly the point, lost job in August, state
benefits run out end of Feb, I am in my 60"s . No one hiring
people my age, support myself, first time I have used unemployment, I need it desparately just as those last year and before, Hope congress has a Merry Christmas, and think of
us who are not, they should be taken out of there cushy
jobs next election . I have workd for 45 years, and deserve this for the only time I have ever been on unemployment,California unemployment is stll sky high,

unemployment extension

Lets spend more money on foreign aid.. The hell with American citizens..

Congress EUC decision

Congress's decision to deny the request for euc for longterm unemployed Americans and go on holiday recess is upsurb. Personally, I believe that its another rock to throw at the president as another casualty that has happened on his watch. But its apparent and obvious  as to who's behind this heartless choice of action on American families. This choice of action by congress will put millions of kids well being at risk, increase poverty and hardships within American families, increase homeless issues rapidly at a national level, potentially increase crime rates  throughout the country, etc... Is risking all that really worth the statement? Why are the American people paying the cost? Its a good chance that both unemployed and employed Americans will feel the wrath of this decision. (I wont go into detail with that one but just think about it for a minute!) Americans should use this dishonor by congress to long term unemployed as an eye-opener and awareness for future elections. I wanted to talk about the state this euc denial is putting me and my family in, but 1.3 mil  Americans and counting losing thier only source of income until they find a job in today's job market is scary enough.  

A true reflection of the unemployment situation

This article truly reflects all aspects of the unemployment situation. I am near 60 and about to lose my benefits. No matter how hard I look for work, I can not find even temporary work. No one wants to hire older people or people in their 20's. The GOP simply want a Great Depression, where businesses can enslave us for meager wages. I would say shame on Congress but any conscious human being would not have cut the extension, realizing the devastating effect it will have on millions of people they govern. They are incapable of shame.

Well we need to spread the

Well we need to spread the word that on January 2nd since the 1st is a holiday, everyone who has lost EUC benefits or just ran out of state benefits needs to apply online to their state benefits site for food stamps or apply for change of household income to allow for more food stamps because everyone who now has zero income will qualify for maximum food stamp benefits based on family size. In Florida it is called SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Someone needs to ask the question, after December 28, what is it supplementing? Tax-free income from begging on the street corner?

I wonder how much the cost to the government will be for 1.3+ million people on maximum available food stamps, many who previously never needed or was eligible for them and did the government factor that into their budget?

this sucks merry xmass not here

thanks one more let down by are goverment. I was layed off no fault of my own. I have filled out over 200 apps I want work and cant find any. Now I cant pay my rent no christmass and no gas to put in my truck to go look for a job.WTF really??? Hope I can eat next week, does the congress know they are killing us. HELP Im about to be homeless and hungry I just want to crie. I did nothing wrong why most they kick us while we are down

EUC benefits (?)

Thank you for such a well written, to- the- point, hard cold truth article on what us on EUC benefits are challenged with everyday! I can tell you from experience...this is blatant DISCRIMINATION.

I have emailed out so many resume's that I feel like I'm going to lose it. Now, I finally see the light...I am a victim of discrimination!
Then I figured out what these "POTENTIAL" employers have been doing...they google the applicant and check out their age by the demographics given on the resume. Address and Name is sufficient enough to search for a potential employee. I have experience rather than education, but, am attending school now thanks to MIWorks program for EUC beneficiaries. Will that too end?

In 2007 I was 47 years old, I got a job with a contract house in the toughest economy ever - albeit for very low pay, but it lasted 4 years - I got laid off February 2012. It's been tough as nails to get a job ever since.

Currently, I'm with 5 contract houses and have been on 2 interviews. I'm not a stupid female. I know how this works and let me tell you, I am a victim of age discrimination. How the hell can you prove that with absolutely everything being online.

I don't have rent or a mortgage payment, as I can't afford either. I live by the generosity of my boyfriend who keeps us with a roof over our head and a car for me to drive.
Just recently, I have been granted an EBT card for food and medicaid. Now, I guess I will have to apply for cash assistance as well.

I'm so disgusted with the situation I am in. I have been putting my resume out to all over the state and across the U.S. I have even asked friends who have jobs to put in a good word for me - but to no avail. All I get are regrets and my resume will remain on file for a year.

I hate to place blame with any political party, but, as I see it, I don't see any new companies coming into the state of Michigan. I see more and more younger people getting jobs and those of other minorities.

Worse demographic is a single unemployed white female over the age of 50, mother of one.

possible 3 month EUC extension but vote on January 7th, 2014

God knows what Congress is thinking now beyond Republicans wanting to end EUC entirely.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid said a vote to extend EUC benefits, but for just three months to be held on January 7th. That means at least 11 days of no benefits would happen and when one is getting $300 a week, that's still bad news.

Supposedly they want to "revamp" EUC, but you can bet dollars to donuts Congress will not give tax incentives to hire, train and retain workers with added incentives for anyone not on a W-2 for over 28 months. Practical solutions, real help? Assuredly not in the Congressional vocabulary.

If there is real definitive action with a "guaranteed to pass Congress, sign into law", we'll update this article with the latest.

Glad to see so many comments telling your story. We need that in America. The Media spins America like people have money and are just fine and dandy, when we know this is simply not the case.

thank you for the writing compliments

I greatly appreciate that feedback for it is rare I hear how well I am communicating....or not.

Supposedly something will happen after at least two weeks without funds, but don't bank on it for as well all know, Democrats will sell out workers, just at a slower rate than Republicans.

We'll update the issue when there is movement. Happy holidays as best as you are able all!

Senate Passes Unemployment extension

Now the problem is the House and last I heard this is only for three more months, not exactly a real extension!

For all folk wanting their unemployment benefits extended, if you had a GOP representative, now is the time to call their office demanding they pass the bill.