Unemployed Californians face benefit losses
Nearly 1.8 million jobless Americans could lose their unemployment insurance benefits at year's end unless Congress approves the president's proposal to reauthorize the federal program through 2012, said the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group known as NELP.
California leads the other 49 states with 305,400 unemployed people facing a cutoff.
About 70,600 would see their 26 weeks of regular, state-paid checks run out. Another 122,500 would stop getting federal emergency unemployment compensation, and 112,300 immediately would lose special, extended federal benefits.
Other states with large numbers of people on unemployment insurance include Florida, New York, Texas and New Jersey.
On Tuesday, NELP released a report called "Hanging on by a Thread," warning that a cut in unemployment benefits would damage workers, business owners and the U.S. economy.
"For millions of out-of-work Americans hanging on by a thread, unemployment insurance is the only thing preventing a free-fall into destitution and despair," said Christine Owens, executive director of NELP.
"For struggling businesses and the halting economy, unemployment insurance is what's preserving consumer spending at a moment we need it most. Withdrawing this crucial stimulus would likely tip the nation back into recession."
NELP is urging Congress to act quickly at a time when the national unemployment rate remains stubbornly above 9%. The last time federal lawmakers reduced unemployment benefits during a time of high joblessness was in 1985, when the national unemployment rate was 7.2%, NELP said.
-- Marc Lifsher
Photo: Job seekers scan the Internet at a government-run employment center in Westminster. Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press