Obama pushes for extension of jobless benefits as weekly claims rise

Claims increased by 20,000 to 457,000 from last week's revised number of 437,000 for the week that ended Oct. 30, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The news came as President Obama reiterated that extending federal benefits to the jobless while the unemployment rate remains near 10 percent should be part of the nation's economic recovery plan. 

"I think it makes sense for us to extend unemployment insurance because there are still a lot of folks out there hurting," Obama said.

The debate over extending federal benefits beyond the 26 weeks offered by states will be a hot topic when lawmakers return Nov. 15 and face the question of whether to provide another extension, for how long and how to pay for it. Emergency unemployment insurance provides up to 99 weeks of benefits in the states with the highest unemployment rates.

Extended benefits expire Nov. 30.

Employment gains are still anemic and the lack of job creation stood out in Tuesday's elections as a top issues for voter. But voters also are worried about high government spending, and Republicans who opposed extending benefits in the summer have taken over the House. They have vowed to reduce spending.  

Last summer, Republicans held up the last extension over its $34 billion cost, and that's likely to happen again. Democrats have argued that the bill should be considered emergency spending and not be paid for with other budget cuts or tax increases. Historically, Congress has approved extended unemployment benefits without paying for them.

Benefits expired for more than 2.5 million Americans who were out of work for at least six months when the measure was delayed over the summer.

A recent analysis by the National Employment Law Project showed that 2 million workers will be cut off federal jobless benefits by year’s end if Congress fails to renew the federal emergency extensions. 

Unemployment figures have hovered around 450,000 for most of the year and hiring hasn't picked up pace to make a dent in the 9.6 percent unemployment rate. 

The economy needs jobless claims to drop into the low 400,000s or high 300,000s — a decrease of 50,000 to 70,000 a month — to reflect stronger job growth in the private sector and propel the recovery. 

Private-sector employment increased by 43,000 from September to October, according to the latest ADP National Employment report.