By George Zornick
Long-term unemployment benefits expired on December 28, meaning an absence of checks this week for more than 1 million jobless Americans. That’s bad news for them, of course—but also the rest of us. According to a new analysis from the minority staff of the House Ways and Means Committee released Friday, $400 million was drained from state economies this week alone thanks to the lapse.
Unemployment benefits are one of the more effective forms of stimulus because the money is badly needed and thus spent right away. The Congressional Budget Office says 200,000 jobs will be lost this year if the benefits are not restored, and this week the damage began.
Big states were obviously the hardest hit, naturally: nearly $65 million came out of the California economy in one week alone, according to the analysis. And of course, states represented by Republicans who oppose the extension each suffered some economic harm. Senator John Cornyn twice blocked a vote on an unemployment insurance extension before the holiday recess, and his home state of Texas lost $21.8 million this week.
Yet Republicans, so far, have not expressed any desire to extend the benefits. “Every week that Republicans fail to act tens of thousands of additional long-term unemployed Americans lose this vital lifeline as they look to get back on their feet after the worst recession in generations, and the economy in each state is taking a hit,” said Representative Sander Levin, the ranking member on Ways and Means.