Report: Lack of federal jobless benefits program costs workers, states $400 million in first week

More than $400 million has been drained from state economies and the pockets of unemployed workers because of the recent expiration of a federal unemployment benefits program. 

House Ways and Means Committee Democrats argue that the report shows the importance of continuing the program, especially while the jobless rate remains high nationwide.

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“In state after state, Americans who have lost their federal unemployment insurance in one fell swoop last week are struggling to get by,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee.

"Every week that Republicans fail to act tens of thousands of additional long-term unemployed Americans lose this vital lifeline as they look to get back on their feet after the worst recession in generations, and the economy in each state is taking a hit.”

Democrats reached the total by examining the average amount of weekly benefits lost for every person in the long-term jobless program by state. 

The program, which expired Dec. 28, was providing benefits to 1.3 million workers who have been out of work for at least six months. 

About 37 percent of the unemployed have struggled to find work and have been unable to find a new job before their state-level benefits run out. 

For example, in Illinois nearly 82,000 people lost an average $313 weekly benefit for a total statewide economic effect of $25 million.

In Ohio, more than 39,000 people lost $312 for a total statewide economic impact of $12 million.

Democrats view unemployment insurance as a form of fiscal stimulus because those who have been out of work for at least six months have some money in their pockets to spend as they search for a new job.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to take up a bill when his chamber returns next week that would reauthorize the program for three months while lawmakers discuss a possible yearlong extension. 

Democrats pushed for a bill before the year-end holidays but didn't reach an agreement with Republicans to move forward on a short-term measure. 

Overall, failing to renew the program will cost the economy 200,000 jobs this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

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