Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation

What has Congress’ refusal to extend emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) past its Dec. 28 expiration date got to do with Wisconsin? Plenty, according to the Wisconsin Budget Project, which on Thursday published a list of "Top 10 Things to Know about the Expiring Federal Employment Benefits."

Click here for the full Top 10 list. An abbreviated version follows:

1. Unemployment insurance benefits will now be cut off after receiving 26 weeks of state benefits, slightly less than half the current limit in Wisconsin of 54 weeks of combined state and federal benefits.

2. About 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers across the country will immediately lose extended benefits, including about 23,700 jobless workers in Wisconsin. (And an estimated 5,340 workers in Dane County.)

3. In the next year, the program’s termination will affect 99,000 long-term unemployed workers in Wisconsin and their households, as well as 2.2 million jobless workers across the U.S.

4. There are now nearly three unemployed workers for every new job opening, which is a worse ratio than at any point during the 2001 recession.

5. The rate of long-term unemployed is now twice as high as it has been at any other time in the past when EUC benefits were terminated.

6. Termination of the EUC program will reduce unemployment benefits in Wisconsin by an estimated $361 million in 2014.

7. Cutting off EUC benefits will cost the national economy 310,000 jobs in 2014 and is likely to reduce the economy’s growth rate by 0.4 percent.

8. Federal spending on EUC benefits peaked in Wisconsin in fiscal year 2009-10 at more than $1.2 billion and would drop to about 70 percent less than that in fiscal year 2013-14 if the program continues and is allowed to phase out.

9. The average weekly EUC benefit in Wisconsin over the past year was about $240.

10. As Ezra Klein explained in a recent post on Wonkblog, employers filling openings often discriminate against the unemployed. His column illustrates that “the problem for the long-term unemployed isn’t that their lavish government checks keep them from wanting jobs. It’s that they can’t get jobs...”

While a dropping jobless rate has been offered as a rationale not to extend the federal benefits, jobless claims are up in Wisconsin. Most counties reported rising unemployment rates this week.

Jon Peacock, director of the Budget Project, sums up by saying that “the abrupt termination of federal unemployment compensation benefits will be a devastating blow for the long-term unemployed and their families, and also a harsh blow for the slowly recovering economy.”

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