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What Happens if Congress Doesn’t Continue Emergency Unemployment Benefits?

February 14, 2012 at 3:15 PM

The emergency federal unemployment insurance (UI) program is set to expire at the end of the month.  If Congress fails to extend it:

  • The number of weeks of available benefits for unemployed workers will shrink dramatically, to fewer than 26 weeks in some states (see the maps below).

  • Nearly 4.5 million jobless workers will lose UI benefits before the end of the year (see the table below).

  • The economic recovery will slow.

Besides the obvious benefit of supporting unemployed workers and their families at a time when there is still only one job opening for every four unemployed workers, UI is one of the most cost-effective ways to support the economic recovery.  CBO ranked it first in its bang-for-the-buck effectiveness among the measures it examined.  Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s, estimates that failure to continue emergency UI benefits could reduce GDP by 0.3 percentage points this year and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.