Long-term unemployment benefits set to end Saturday

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    (Photo via ShutterStock)

    Extended unemployment benefits are set to expire Saturday. The extra weeks of unemployment were added during the economic recession to help the long-term unemployed. About 1.3 million people will be affected nationwide.

    In New Jersey, 79,000 residents who will be affected, making the state the state the hardest hit per capita. In Delaware, about 3,600 will lose jobless benefits.

    The estimated 84,000 Pennsylvanians who will stop receiving financial assistance include Angel Allen.

    Since she was laid off from her job in the mortgage industry a year ago, Allen and her two children have lived off her unemployment checks during her search for work.

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    “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said the Philadelphia resident this week. “My house will go into foreclosure. I’ll lose everything. I’ll lose my car. And then how am I going to find a job?”

    The Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Foundation favors ending the benefit.

    Evidence supports the belief that people receiving unemployment insurance may stay out of the workforce rather than accept a job that’s not as good as the one they were laid off from, said policy analysts Elizabeth Stelle.

    “You start to cross over the line into some sort of entitlement program and that’s not what unemployment benefits were designed to do,” she said. “They were designed to be a bridge.”

    “A lot of people are coming to the conclusion that, in this slow recovery, in this weak economy, they may need to take a part-time job or a couple part-time jobs or a different job than they had before to make ends meet,” Stelle said.

    Another extension of the unemployment benefits was left out of a budget deal struck in Congress this month.

    In a conference call with reporters Friday, U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez urged Congress to reinstate the benefits when they return from the holidays on Jan. 6, pointing to a 2.6 percent long-term unemployment rate.

    “It will help so many people who want to work and are unemployed through no fault of their own,” he said.

    Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid has pledged to bring legislation up in the Senate in January.

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