End of extended unemployment benefits to impact 80,000 in Illinois

News-DemocratDecember 27, 2013 

An estimated 80,000 Illinois residents will lose federal jobless benefits Saturday, unless Congress takes action.

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, if lawmakers fail to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, federal jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans will end and final payments will be made early next month.

President George W. Bush signed the EUC program into law in 2008 and several extensions have been authorized since. The program supports families and local businesses. It allows them to collect unemployment insurance benefits for 99 weeks instead of the standard 26 weeks.

President Barack Obama has urged Congress to extend the program through next year. Gene Sperling, the director of the White House's National Economic Council, said Friday that President Barack Obama wants an extension as soon as Congress return next month, warning the abrupt cut-off will deliver a blow to the U.S. economy.

"It defies economic sense, precedent and our values," Sperling said.

But Obama has no quick fix. He hailed this month's two-year budget agreement as a breakthrough of bipartisan cooperation while his administration works with Democratic allies in the House and Senate to revive an extension of jobless benefits for those unemployed more than six months.

The Obama administration says those payments have kept 11.4 million people out of poverty and benefited almost 17 million children. The cost of the payments since 2008 has totaled $225 billion.

IDES cites economic analysis showing each $1 in unemployment insurance generates between $1.63 and $2 in economic activity. The average weekly benefit payment is $320 and the maximum weekly family payment is $562. IDES calculates that the 80,000 Illinoisans receiving their payments represent $25.6 million in purchasing power each week.

When the EUC program was first introduced, the national unemployment rate then was 5.7 percent. Today, the national rate today is 7 percent and the jobless rate in Illinois is 8.7 percent.

The latest statistics from IDES reveal that the unemployment rate recorded last month in St. Clair County was 9.2 percent and 8.2 percent in Madison County.

The Associated Press contributed information to this story.

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