Merry Christmas? Unemployment Benefits Could Cease For 2 Million on December 1, Blacks Would Be Hard Hit

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November 14, 2012 ‐ By Ann Brown

A line for an Oregon job fair. Image: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

According to new reports, two million people could lose unemployment benefits right before Christmas unless Congress extends the benefits program. And African Americans, who have among the still have the highest unemployment rates, will most likely be the hardest hit. Even though unemployment figures for African Americans have improved, 13.4 percent of black workers, or 2.44 million people, remain out of work, according to the Huffington Post. And in New York, black women are the hardest hit.

According to the nonprofit Community Service Society of New York, older women and black workers remained unemployed longest. “Nearly 63 percent of women 55 to 65 were out of work for more than six months last year… Black New Yorkers remained unemployed for an average 47 weeks, more than any other ethnic group,” reports the Uptowner. A Department of Labor report found blacks are less likely to find jobs and tend to stay unemployed for longer periods of time.

If Congress doesn’t act by December 1, Americans who have been out of work longer than six months will no longer receive benefits. Six months is the limit for most state-funded unemployment insurance. In April, another one million people might have their checks curtailed if the program is not renewed.

“We cannot forget the human cliff looming for more than two million Americans scheduled to lose their economic lifeline during the upcoming holidays,” Rep. Sander M. Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.

Congress could have some hurdles in extending the benefits as conservative lawmakers “have raised concerns that continually extending jobless benefits is both an unmanageable burden on the federal budget and a disincentive for people to find work,” reports The Washington Post.

But a coalition of more than 35 groups led by the National Employment Law Project is launching an aggressive campaign to pressure Congress to extend the program.

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