Saturday, December 28 will mark the end of the emergency unemployment compensation program which provides benefits to job seekers who have experienced long-term unemployment. 1.3 million Americans will immediately lose their benefits when the program expires. Millions more will lose benefits in the next year.
Implemented during the Bush administration in 2008, the federal program allowed unemployed workers to collect benefits for up to 99 weeks depending on their state’s average unemployment rate. A response to the spike in long-term unemployment during the Great Recession, the program has paid jobless benefits to 24 million Americans at a cost of $252 billion during the first half of 2013.
Even as the job market marked steady upward progress in the past 12 months, the emergency unemployment compensation program sent more than $25.6 billion into unemployed workers’ pockets in 2013 while they looked for work and helped strengthen struggling state economies.
It is expected that when the program expires, state unemployment benefits will revert back to the standard 26 weeks.