Poll: Majority supports at least a year of federal jobless benefits

More than two-thirds of those asked in a new poll support at least a year of federal unemployment benefits for workers struggling to find jobs. 

The Fox News poll shows 69 percent of people back unemployment insurance for at least a year, beyond the typical maximum of 26 weeks offered in most states.

Within that 69 percent, 36 percent says benefits should last for a year, 13 percent supports an 18-month extension, and 11 percent backs two years of benefits. 

Meanwhile, 26 percent said benefits should last for less than a year.

Despite the support, 55 percent believe jobless benefits discourages the long-term unemployed to from looking for work, while 37 said it doesn't.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate remains at an impasse over whether to renew the federal benefits program that ended for more than 1.3 million people on Dec. 28. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would bring up the issue for a vote when lawmakers return next week. 

President Obama is expected to call on Congress to renew the program in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. 

Most of the battle has been over whether and how to pay for the program, which would cost $6.4 billion for three months and about $26 billion to run through 2014.

The Senate voted down two Democratic plans last week before leaving town for a weeklong recess — one 11-month continuation that is paid for and other three-month bill that was not offset with other spending cuts. 

The poll shows that, by far, the economy is the top issue. 

All told, 49 percent said Congress and Obama need to focus on the issue compared with 13 percent for healthcare and 12 percent for the federal deficit. 

In addition, 40 percent said that employment is the largest economic issue facing the country. 

On another employment issue, 56 percent of respondents said the minimum wage should be raised because it would help more people pay their bills, while 25 percent say it shouldn't be raised because it would force businesses to cut jobs.