Benefits that had been extended up to 99 weeks started running out Wednesday. Unless Congress approves a longer extension, the Labor Department estimates about 2 million people will be cut off by Christmas.
Republicans in the House and Senate, along with a handful of conservative Democrats, say they’re open to extending benefits, but not if it means adding to the $13.8 trillion national debt.
Ninety-nine weeks may seem like a long time to find a job. But even as the economy grows, jobs that vanished in the Great Recession have not returned. The private sector added about 159,000 jobs in October — half as many as needed to reduce the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, which the Federal Reserve expects will hover around 9 percent for all of next year.