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Unemployment Benefits For 1.3 Million Expire Saturday

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Credit: John McAfee/CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Michelle Marshall is one of the 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans who will lose unemployment benefits Saturday.

Marshall, 56, has been out of work for a year, since she lost an administrative assistant job that paid her $44,000 per year.

She started collecting $624 each week in New Jersey unemployment benefits, but the state benefits ran out after 26 weeks. When federal benefits kicked in, she collected $521.

But Marshall will stop getting these checks next week.

That’s because Congress failed to extend the recession-era program when it passed a budget deal last week.

While those who are out of work first get benefits from states, as Marshall did, the federal program helps those who can’t find jobs get unemployment benefits for an average of 36.1 weeks. Federal benefits kick in after state benefits run out, and range between 14 to 47 weeks, depending on the state where a person lives.

According to government figures, the average weekly benefit check is $300.

Even the cut from the larger state check to the federal benefits was hard for Marshall. She had to consolidate her $12,000 worth of credit card debt and enroll in a mortgage assistance program.

When the benefits stop entirely, she doesn’t know what she’ll do.

“I imagine I will go apply for food stamps,” she said. “Depending how long this goes on, I might lose my car, which will impact my ability to get a job. I won’t be able to drive to interviews.”

The program was first signed into law in June 2008 by President George W. Bush, when the unemployment rate was 5.6% and the average duration of jobless insurance was 17.1 weeks.

The unemployment rate climbed to more than 10% at the height of the Great Recession in 2009, and the government extended the federal benefits for the long-term unemployed.

However, thanks to a weak recovery, those benefits have been either extended or expanded 11 times, most recently on Jan. 2 .

Most states, however, have cut back unemployment benefits, as the labor market has improved.

During negotiations over the budget deal earlier this month, House Speaker John Boehner suggested he was open to an extension if the White House came up with a plan. But the provision didn’t make it into the deal that President Obama signed last week.

The Obama administration says the end of extended benefits could have a major impact on the economy.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers and Department of Labor issued a joint report earlier this month touting how jobless benefits buoy the economy, while keeping 2.5 million workers out of poverty each year.

The White House pointed out in a separate report that the expiration of benefits could reduce U.S. GDP by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage point in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office and a J.P. Morgan Chase economist.

The Congressional Budget Office said the cost to extend the federal benefits by another year is about $26 billion.

But Republicans have said in memos that the program has already cost $252 billion in the five years through July.

Democrats intend to make this a big issue. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that the first item on Congress’ agenda in 2014 must be an extension of unemployment insurance, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last week he would push for an extension “after the new year.” Ads by a liberal group blasting the Republicans for inaction are running this week on cable TV networks, including CNN.

Those who are set to lose benefits, like Marshall, haven’t lost hope, but they are urging Congress to do something.

“Give us a little more time to try and make some plans,” she said. “I can’t give up. I have no one to take care of me.”


  • Audrey

    After all of this time, she should be able to find some kind of job.. You can work at McDonald’s if you have to.

    • L Washington

      I have been out of permanent work for at least 5 years. I’m only finding temp jobs here and there that last a few months at a time, then back to unemployment again. I am well educated, but over the age of 50. Believe that it’s real when people can’t find a job that they can live on. You still require and qualify for government assistance while working those full-time temp jobs. Real jobs are scarce. They require internet applications and a phone, transportation to interviews and drug testing. It all costs money that you don’t have.

      • birtye

        that is so true I have been out of work for a year as of nov this year I have put in apps every where even for jobs I have no qualifications for I have had interviews I want full time but was willing to accept part time if it was enough hours the jobs i interviewed for were offering 10 hours and 12 hours I cant live on that who could its hard I need a job

    • HearttoHeart

      You people are so ignorant!! Have you ever lost your job?? I lost a well-paying job 5 years ago. I tried for 3 long years to get a job, applying everywhere I could, even McDonald’s. I had 3 interviews in 3 years!!! I hated being unemployed, I wanted to work, but I could hardly get anyone to talk to me. I went to see recruiters, signed up on all job search sites, NOTHING!! So don’t judge people until you have been through the same situation. You are cold, heartless people with no compassion, typical Repugs!!

      • Nicole

        Maybe the skill that you have is not needed anymore. You may have a better chance in getting a job if you went to learn a new skill?

      • George Clayton

        I feel your pain. 62 almost 63. Worked all my life, out of work for 10 months. Paid my dues. Age discrimination is alive and rampant in, the “land of the free, and the home of the brave”. Yeah, it is easy to sit back, like some are here and, put on their hats of judgement. Come stick your feet in our shoes. Only then will you understand.

    • Alyson Carpenter Terry Robinson

      I’m sure they would tell her she is overqualified. I’ve been told that so many times….. I am blessed to finally be somewhere I am able to support my family. Only because I had the help of people who believed in me to get into a place that almost never hires because nobody leaves there until they retire.

  • R. Henthorn

    Do you think she could run a household on McDonalds wages. I have been out of work since May. The first time in my life I have been unemployed. I have applied for work every week. I hold a state radiology tech license and have been unable to find work. Even in a grocery store. So don’t be so quick to judge unless you have walked in someone else’s shoes. Because I too am trying to figure out what I am going to do.

  • gdan75

    No.. You can’t just go “work at McDonalds” because if you do that you are spending your time making hardly any money at all and you STILL can’t pay your bills. A job at McDonalds is not intended for someone with a Mortgage, a car payment and real bills. If you have planned your life around a $44k/yr job then you have to find something in that area of pay. You can cut back and do without a lot of things.. But if you have planned your life requires a certain income.. McDonalds wont provide that. Also.. If you have been out of work an extended amount of time.. You realize just how difficult it is to find a decent job these days. Every one I know who were working professionals.. Who lost their jobs in the last 3 years took 18 months to 2 years before they found a real Paying job again. Its not easy right now.

  • Wendy Leedy

    You have a local job for my husband? He’ll gladly take it. He’s worked in IT all his life and even has Network Security Certification. He’s been looking for SIXTEEN months now.He is registered on all the job search sites, local employment agencies and had put ads up on craigslist and paper ads up in all of our local businesses. He’s put in over 175 applications in over the last 16 months(we have a record of every single one too cause unemployment requires it) and had 4 interviews…FOUR. We have 2 kids to take care of. I’m working, but it’s only part time cause that’s what I can get. So, before you assume that everyone on unemployment are lazy, moochers how about maybe you see exactly what someone who is living through it has to go through every day.Trust me, we don’t like having to depend on unemployment. He even went through a state of ohio government program that was supposed to PLACE him in a job where the state reimburses the employer for his “training” period….that was supposed to happen at the end of July. It’s December now. So, the STATE hasn’t been able to find him a job either. He couldn’t be trying any harder than he is.

  • mamam

    It is that easy, Find another job, it may not be a $44,000 job, it may be a a $34,000 or a $24,000 but when you indicate that you’d rather stay on unemployment instead of getting a different lower paying job, you’re taking the money out of MY pocket. I’ve always lived within my means, had a back up plan and can handle anything head on., It’s called being a responsible adult, not a lazy person who wants take the unemployment until they find another $44,000 job! There are head hunters that will help you find a job. You may have to move but get some dignity people and stand up and support YOURSELF because I’m fed up with doing it!

    • L Washington

      Fact of the matter is….whatever comes out of YOUR pocket, comes out anyway, regardless of what the government decides to do with it. If it’s not for this, then it’s for that. People that receive unemployment benefits have paid into that pot just like their employers have.

      • mamam

        It more about making responsible Americans, not lazy ones. “Do not feed the bear” …. Apply it to welfare……

  • Laurie Thompson

    Wow people you really are naive!! first of all when you are losing all of your income any job no matter how little the pay is better than no job. When the income is an extreme drop you learn to live without the comforts..that means a family may need to sell their house and rent a small apartment. sell their vehicles and rely on public transportation. You dont’ just sit there and say oh I can’t get a job or oh I can’t take that job it doesn’t pay enough. Any job can pay enough if its budgeted right and public programs are taken advantage of. It might not be the life you are accustomed to but you will be able to live and survive on low pay. I speak from experience I had a great job made great money with all the benefits. When resources run out you learn to sacrifice and not be to proud to take any job or any kind of help. Sometimes Professionals end up working at walmart or the corner gas station. Look at it this way if you still have your life and your loved ones it doesn’t matter what else you lost or what low job you have to take, your surviving and with that you should be able to get a smile on your face and your chin up.

    • state_facts

      You are correct Laurie I agree…Glad I actually spent the money and got my MBA. I was raised poor …lol…now I laugh at the high school drop outs with kids they can’t afford…

      • HearttoHeart

        Wow, are you people brain dead!! I have a college degree and after I lost the job that I had for 20 years, I went back for training so I could get other types of work – and still got NOTHING. They all told me I was over-qualified, even though I didn’t have experience in that line of work. I hope it never happens to you! I worked for 34 years, paid my taxes all my life, am responsible, but it’s jerks like you that make this world a miserable place to live. You think that YOU are the only ones working and paying taxes??? Excuse me, but I worked for 34 years and supported people who were homeless, on welfare and unemployed and didn’t complain like you!! What goes around, comes around and one of these days you may find yourself in this position, because I sure as heck never in the world thought I would EVER be unemployed!! But it happened, and it is not easy to find another job in this new world that you haters created!!

  • Nicole

    wow I pay taxes for people to sit on there butts and make sorry excusses on why they can not get a job. With in a year these people could have went to school and get NEW SKILL so they have a better chance to get a job. For all the people who comment that they found employment but the job was only giving 10-12 hrs a week,,, GUESS WHAT it more then you have and I GOT an IDEA get to 2 jobs!!!

    There many jobs out here that are not pretty and do not offer a desk,,, but they have a check.

    Now what our taxes pay for Food Stamps and state welfare checks..

    I have no Pitty for the weak.

    • L Washington

      Went back to school, got a new skill, can’t get a job in that field because I have no experience working in that field.

  • Sabrina

    Whatever people, the economy is bad, everyone is looking for work so all you can do is pray on it for everyone. I see everyone has money to keep their computers and internet post going, so it can’t be that bad.

    • L Washington

      Are you serious?? You better make sure you have internet. Otherwise, you definitely won’t get a job. They all want you to apply online…..even McDonald’s! Internet and a phone are must-haves for job seekers!!

  • John

    Come on now, every public library had internet and if you have to leave your moms phone Number to call. I have 7 children and make 20k/yr less then the nation average have a mortgage two car payments and I am on no govt assistance what so ever if I lost my job today I could have another one within 48 hours it’s all about how you market yourself, and by the way I used to be an assistant manager at mcdonalds and I made 32k/yr so yeah if you are a professional dumb yourself down a little bit and go get a job

  • Jay

    I’m not talking down on no one but, I lost a great paying job also. And I looked and looked for two week straight and couldn’t find a job.. So I changed my profession two weeks later I had a job and haven’t been out of work for 14 years…in fact I have two jobs now…. I could never be out of work for that long of a time…So I agree with most of these post…. Change ur profession, go back to school while the funds are still there…

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