The End of Extended Unemployment Benefits

 Extended unemployment benefits have been a major lifeline for thousands of unemployed people for the past four years. Unfortunately that lifeline is about to come to an end.

The first phase of extended unemployment benefits was passed in late 2007. This extension of benefits was created because the national economy was starting to go into a serious decline. Since 2007 three additional extensions have been added to the extended unemployment benefits program. The most recent extension occurred last year in December 2012. It was hard getting this last extension passed because republicans and democrats couldn’t agree on the details. However, in the end both sides finally agreed to extend the program for another year. Unless another extension is passed, the current extended unemployment benefits program is set to expire December 31, 2013. It seems unlikely however that another extension will be passed. This is because the president’s office is currently focusing on other things like working out the details for the new healthcare plan and how to balance the national budget.

Because so many other things are going on in the country right now, the media has not featured too many articles in recent months about the current unemployment situation. However, just because there hasn’t been a lot of media attention about unemployment, doesn’t mean that the unemployment situation has gotten any better. As a matter of fact, there are still thousands of people who still don’t have jobs. Many of these people have depended on extended benefits to help them feed their families and keep a roof over their head. If the extended benefits program expires in December, these individuals will not have any source of income.

When you consider that the national unemployment rate is still near 7%, it would be justifiable to ask congress to extend benefits one more time. Unfortunately with all the other issues congress is focusing on right now (i.e., healthcare, Syria, etc.) extending benefits is probably not evn on their radar screen.

Now we come to the question, what are people who are still unemployed supposed to do when their benefits run out? The first thing some people would say to the unemployed is “get a job”. However in this current economy that is not an easy thing to do.

As the extended benefits expiration date gets closer, many non-profit agencies and community organizations are getting prepared for an increased influx of people needing assistance. This includes local shelters and community food banks. Both are preparing by increasing solicitations of money, canned food, toiletries, sheets, beds and blankets. In addition, there are also many local educational centers which are increasing their outreach to local unemployed people. Part of this outreach is to help them learn skills so they can start new careers.

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