By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than a million out-of-work Americans, including thousands in our area, could lose their federal unemployment benefits at the end of this year if Congress doesn’t act soon.

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December 28th is the date that the federal unemployment compensation program, started during the peak of the recession, is set to expire.  It’s been extended before, but the uncertainty still worries advocates for the unemployed.

“We really need Congress to continue that program because the economy is still very, very weak and unemployment is unacceptably high,” says John Dodds, director of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.   He says 87,000 Pennsylvanians would be affected, losing an average of $300 a week.

And that, he says, would mean less cash going into the economy.

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He adds that with three job seekers for every available job, the long-term unemployed are stuck in a vicious cycle.

“They’re trying to get back to work but the employers say, ‘Hey, you haven’t worked in a year, year and a half — we’re not going to hire you.’  So it creates a desperate situation,” Dodds says.

Another 850,000 additional unemployed people could lose their benefits by the end of March.  Dodds saying it adds insult to injury with all of this happening after cuts to food stamps.


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