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Behind the Jobless Benefits Debate #3: Who Could Lose Federal Benefits Next Month?

This is the third of a series of posts that look behind the debate over continuing a federal program that provides emergency unemployment insurance benefits and explain what’s at stake for jobless workers and the economy.

The program providing federal emergency unemployment insurance benefits to workers who run out of their regular state benefits (typically after 26 weeks) is scheduled to end November 30th.  If Congress fails to continue the program, 2 million workers will miss out on federal unemployment benefits in December, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP).  Click here for NELP’s state-by-state estimates.

About 5 million unemployed workers are currently receiving federal benefits, and the number of people who exhaust their regular benefits will remain high through the coming year.  Unemployed workers receive federally funded benefits through the temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program and the permanent Extended Benefits (EB) program.  States normally provide half the funding for EB, but EB is currently receiving full federal funding (though this too will end November 30th).

NELP’s estimate of 2 million workers affected in December includes:

  • Almost 400,000 workers who will exhaust their regular state benefits in December and won’t have access to any federal benefits. Several hundred thousand unemployed workers exhaust their regular benefits each month — a trend that will continue over the coming year.
  • Over 810,000 workers receiving EB benefits who will lose those benefits immediately because their states will end their EB programs when full federal funding expires.
  • Over 815,000 workers receiving EUC benefits who will lose those benefits prematurely. EUC provides benefits in “tiers” of weeks; people receiving EUC as of November 30 will be allowed to complete their current tier but not move on to the next tier. NELP estimates that over 815,000 workers will reach the end of their current tier and thus receive no further federal benefits in December.  Many more will be prematurely cut off from EUC benefits in the months to follow.

Click here for our full analysis of why continuing federal emergency unemployment insurance benefits is good for workers and the economy and will have only a negligible affect on the long-term budget deficit.

Other posts in the series: