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The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provided additional benefits to unemployed Americans once their "regular" unemployment had elapsed. The program effectively expired on Dec 28. 1.3 million long-term unemployed lost their benefits that week, and 70,000 additional workers are falling off the rolls every week after.
Unemployment benefits vary by state, but generally run at least 26 weeks. Currently, there are 4 million Americans who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer -- the highest number of long-term unemployed since World War II.
Senate Republicans initially demanded that the program be paid for -- in other words, not tacked onto a burgeoning federal deficit.
"Then, as Reid rounded up both Democratic and Republican proposals that would pay for an extension for varying lengths of time, Republicans began complaining that they were not allowed to offer amendments to the legislation," writes Rebecca Kaplan at CBS News.
Negotiations have stalled, despite the fact that the majority of Americans support extending unemployment benefits.
There are currently 2.9 unemployed workers for every job opening, and the long-term unemployed stand less of a chance of being hired for those spots than someone who's only been out of work a few weeks. In fact, studies have shown that employers won't even consider workers who have been unemployed for extended periods of time.
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