Are 26 Weeks of Unemployment Benefits Enough? [POLL]
Today, horror stories abound as to how many people have been out of work for extended periods of time.
A year at a clip, perhaps more.
Now add to that the fact that extended federal unemployment benefits have just run out for thousands around the state.
What to do?
Oooofaaa! It’s a dizzying prospect!
Looking back at my own checkered past, any time I’ve been “on the beach,” I’ve always made it a priority to try and find something, anything, no matter how menial in my field, just to stay “in the flow” – or even just to get out of the house.
However, that was in a period where it was possible to get something “menial” in my field.
Times have changed, and those “menial” positions may have dried up – and not just in my field, but in just about any field!
So the question begs being asked, despite the lower unemployment numbers issued by the government – is 26 weeks of unemployment benefits enough given the still soft economy?
Beginning today, 1.3 million Americans will see their extended federal unemployment benefits expire.
Proportionally, New Jersey will take the hardest hit per capita of any state: 90,300 residents will immediately be cut off.
Experts are also worried the New Jersey and U.S. economies could take a hit because consumers will have less money to spend on food, clothes, cars and more.
New Jersey residents looking for work can now receive unemployment benefits from the state for 26 weeks — or about six months. After that, they can receive another 37 weeks under the extended federal benefits.
But the total will shrink back to 26 when the federal program ends today. Another 89,100 New Jerseyans will lose their benefits during the first six months of next year.
The federal government’s “emergency unemployment compensation” began under President George W. Bush to help the millions of Americans who lost their jobs in the Great Recession and failed to find new ones in the months they received state unemployment.
Congress has voted 11 times to extend the federal benefits. But the funds were not part of the budget deal lawmakers passed earlier this month.
Whether they will extend the benefits again in the coming year is unclear. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Friday the Senate is expected to vote on a three-month extension Jan. 6.
Republicans who control the House of Representatives have opposed extending the benefits without other budget cuts. Some have cited the fall of the nation’s unemployment to 7 percent — a five-year low — as a sign that the economy is growing and additional weeks of benefits are no longer needed.
But two New Jersey Republicans — Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Jon Runyan — joined five other moderate Republicans in a letter to GOP House leaders urging them to reconsider “to protect an essential safeguard that has aided Americans who have endured through a weak economy.”
The Obama administration said the extended benefits have kept 11.4 million Americans out of poverty and benefited almost 17 million children. The cost of the benefits since 2008 has been $225 billion.
Gov. Chris Christie, who fought Congress over Hurricane Sandy aid earlier this year, said there is little the state can do when it comes to another extension.
“That’s really a federal decision,” he said. “The best thing I can do is to continue to shepherd into existence here in the state an improving economy. Because I know everybody who’s been on unemployment extension would rather be working.”
And that’s the way I’ve always looked at it – grab what you can where you can.
But that may not necessarily be the case today.
Without the prospect of work, is it possible for you to survive on only 26 weeks of unemployment benefits?
And do you feel 26 weeks of unemployment are enough?