"The program, in place since the recession started in 2008, provides up to 47 weeks of supplemental unemployment insurance payments to jobless people looking for work. Its expiration is expected to have far-reaching ramifications for the economy, cutting job growth by about 300,000 positions next year and pushing hundreds of thousands of households below the poverty line."An extension of the unemployment program did not make it into the two-year budget deal that was passed just before Congress left on its winter recess. When the federal program expires, just 1 in 4 unemployed Americans will receive jobless benefits — the smallest proportion in half a century."
"Started under President George W. Bush, the benefits were designed as a cushion for the millions of U.S. citizens who lost their jobs in a recession and failed to find new ones while receiving state jobless benefits, which in most states expire after six months. Another 1.9 million people across the country are expected to exhaust their state benefits before the end of June."Republicans and some Democrats will likely want to make sure that any proposal to extend federal unemployment benefits is paid for. Many of them look at signs of economic growth and an unemployment rate now down to 7 percent and expected to drop further as evidence the additional weeks of benefits are no longer necessary."The effect of jobless benefits on the unemployment rates has been fiercely debated for decades. To qualify, people have to be seeking work. Conservative lawmakers such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky argue that the payments aggravate rather than relieve unemployment."