Long-Term Unemployment Benefits To Expire On Saturday

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The holiday season will come to an abrupt end for people who have been unemployed for more than six months. Federal long-term unemployment benefits didn't make it through this month's budget negotiations, and are set to expire on Saturday.


You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Don Gonyea.

The holiday season will come to an abrupt end this weekend for people who have been unemployed for more than six months. Saturday, benefits expire for 1.3 million Americans who've been on the Federal Emergency Unemployment Benefit Program, which picks up where state systems usually end. That has people worried, people like Allison Gwyn(ph), a professional music teacher and actor in New York, who lost her job early in the summer.

ALLISON GWYN: I'm in trouble. I'm in forbearance for my student loans. And I can cover this month's rent but I don't know where next month's is going to come from. And I was really depending on unemployment benefits to float me until I worked to find my next job.

GONYEA: The extended benefits that Gwyn has been receiving started under the Bush administration during the economic crisis of 2008. The program has been a way to pump cash into the economy. Congress has voted 11 times to keep it alive. But with the economy improving, fiscal conservatives kept it out of the budget deal that passed this month. Congress is expected to consider it again in January.

GWYN: I just hope that Congress votes at least for that three-month extension because a lot of people are like me, and they're not being lazy. They're just trying to survive and they're doing the best they can.

GONYEA: Another recipient is Denise Jones, a single mom in Takoma Park, Maryland, who lost her HR job in April. The lost benefits will force her into tough choices.

DENISE JONES: I live on the edge. I just - I don't know what else I could cut. I guess the next thing to go would be Internet. And then I could go down the street to the library and use the Internet, you know, for job search. But I have to have it. You can't conduct a job search without your Internet connection. The Internet and your cell phone have to be available all the time.

GONYEA: While the jobless rate has dropped, the long-term unemployed have an especially hard time finding work.

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