Unemployment benefits end in US for 1.3 mn jobless
For the more than 1.3 million people who have been jobless in the US for over six months, the holiday season came to a crashing halt Saturday with the cancellation of the federal government's unemployment insurance payments.
The end of insurance for the long-term unemployed is the result of a federal-budget deal reached by Republicans and Democrats in Congress that eliminated the extension of benefits for the jobless, in effect since 2008 to ease the effects of the deepest, most prolonged recession in the US in almost 80 years.
The end of federal unemployment benefits is the second blow to strike some of the neediest people in the country, following the deep cuts in the food stamps programme made by Congress in November.
Democrats have promised that in January, when Congress reconvenes, they will introduce bills to reestablish federal unemployment insurance, without which 3.6 million people will lose their benefits until the end of 2014.
But Republicans, with their majority in the House of Representatives, consider that the reasons to continue renewing this type of aid indefinitely have vanished with the strengthening of the economy.
In his most recent press conference, President Barack Obama urged Republicans to work with Democrats in order to extend aid for the unemployed quickly, at least for another three months.
During the Great Recession between December 2007 and July 2009, the world's largest economy lost almost 8.4 million jobs, and for millions of people the subsequent recovery has not resolved their long-term joblessness.
According to the government of President Barack Obama, the private sector has created employment for 45 consecutive months for a total of 8.1 million jobs, 2.3 million of them added over the last 12 months.
Unfortunately, a large proportion of those new jobs are part-time, without any benefits like health insurance or payment for overtime work, poorly paid and unstable jobs that for many workers do not compensate the cost of accepting them, like paying out money for transportation, decent clothes and hiring someone to look after the kids at home.