There’s at least a glimmer of hope for people who are currently unemployed. The Senate voted on Wednesday to extend unemployment benefits by up to 20 weeks for people currently collecting unemployment. Most states will receive a 14 week extension, but states with unemployment rates in excess of 8.5% will receive an additional 6 weeks, for a total extension of 20 weeks.
People who have already exhausted their unemployment benefits can reapply for additional benefits under this bill.
The bill still has to get through the House and then must be signed by the President, but it is not expected to change much before the final passing. This is expected to be the last extension for unemployment benefits.
Data shows that one out of three unemployed people have been unemployed for more than six months. Normal unemployment benefits run for 26 weeks, so this bill is intended to help those who have suffered extended unemployment periods.
On the bright side, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits declined last week, indicating that we might be at the peak of the unemployment for this recession. Currently the national unemployment rate is 8.9%; it was expected to climb to over 10% before the labor market started recovering. Hopefully the decline in new unemployment claims indicates an earlier than expected recovery in the labor market.