WASHINGTON (UPI) — Unemployment insurance expires this weekend for 1.3 million Americans due to Federal policy that may eventually affect more than 3 million, economists say.
Federal emergency unemployment benefits will end Saturday, after Congress declined to renew funding for the program. The National Employment Law Project said another 1.9 million Americans will lose their benefits by mid-2014 when their 26 weeks of State assistance ends, USA Today reported Friday.
Chris Edwards, an economist for the libertarian Cato Institute, said it was time for the program to end.
“These are called emergency benefits,” he said. “The U.S. economy has been out of recession for over four years.”
The unemployment rate has fallen to 7 percent from a high of 10 percent in October 2009.
Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, projected ending the benefits would lower the unemployment rate because many workers on the program would stop looking for work.
He said others will take lower-paying jobs they had previously turned down.
“From a human level, cutting 1.3 million Americans off their lifeline doesn’t make any sense and it’s not anything we should be doing,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who is working to extend unemployment benefits.
Reed and Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.) want to renew the program for three months early next year while Congress finds ways to compensate for the $25 billion annual cost.
Benefit checks average about $300 a week.