Thousands of Wisconsinites Stand to Lose Unemployment Benefits Unless Congress Acts
Thousands of out-of-work Wisconsinites who have been searching for a job for a long time will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year, unless Congress acts to renew federal unemployment benefits. According to a new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project, 65,500 jobless workers in Wisconsin will lose access to federal benefits over the next six months, as shown in the chart below.
Most states pay unemployment insurance benefits to jobless workers for a maximum of 26 weeks. In times of higher unemployment, Congress authorizes federally-funded benefits that provide assistance to people who reach the limit on their state-financed unemployment insurance. If the program that provides federal unemployment benefits is allowed to end, the maximum duration of unemployment benefits for jobless workers in Wisconsin will drop by more than half, from 54 weeks to 26 weeks.
The Budget Project’s analysis notes that 36 percent of jobless workers have been unemployed six months or more, which is far above the rate of long-term unemployment in previous recessions. The average unemployed worker has been searching for a job for 36 weeks, and the search is often much longer for older works and those in communities with high unemployment.
Allowing the extended benefits to end abruptly could be a major blow to an economy still struggling to fully recover from the most severe recession in decades. Unemployment compensation has proven to be one of the most reliable forms of boosting a sagging economy. Eliminating federal unemployment benefits would cost the national economy 310,000 jobs next year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
If Congress does not act before the end of the year to extend federal unemployment benefits, both struggling families and the national economy will suffer. Instead of abruptly terminating federal unemployment benefits, a better approach would be for Congress to slowly phase out the benefits as more jobs are created.
You can read the full analysis here.