Relief for the long-term unemployed has come to a screeching halt in Congress. 1.3 million Americans lost their benefits on December 28, 2013 because of Congresses in ability to agree upon a solution to the problem. Now, almost a month without benefits these families will be forced to make very tough decisions soon.
When will Congress stop the pain? It doesn't look good with the 2014 budget deal passed and signed into law by President Obama in early January. This was the best time to extend benefits; the deal would've been only for a three-month extension but to no avail. Congress has no new plan to restore long-term unemployment benefits.
Although Congress continues to do nothing, the problems for the American people aren't fixing themselves. According to Associated Press, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits ticked up 1,000 last week. The economy isn't improving fast enough, but employers are laying off fewer workers. The states with the biggest increases and decreases were:
States with the biggest decreases:
New York: Down 18,019, due to fewer layoffs in transportation and warehousing, food services, and education
Georgia: Down 7,278, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing, administration, construction and hotels and restaurants
Alabama: Down 2,639, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing
Wisconsin: Down 2,577, no reason given
South Carolina: Down 1,810, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing
States with the biggest increases:
Texas: Up 12,800, no reason given
California: Up 8,319, due to layoffs in agriculture and wholesale trade
Pennsylvania: Up 7,107, due to more layoffs in construction and administrative support
Indiana: Up 6,622, no reason given
Florida: Up 5,790, due to layoffs in agriculture, construction, manufacturing and retail
This is not the time for Congress to focus on the 2014 election season. More work is waiting to be done such as immigration, unemployment, minimum wage and a job's bill is to name a few. However, for the moment, Congress must pass legislation to extend the long-term unemployed. This is the first time since 2008 the emergency unemployment compensation hasn't been extended, and it would increase the GDP by 0.2 percent, and 200,000 jobs would be added to the economy if the benefits continue, according to the Congressional Budget Office.