INDIANAPOLIS - On Saturday, 1.3 million Americans, some of whom have been out of work for nearly 30 weeks, lost their jobless benefits as a federal unemployment extension expired.
In Indiana, an estimated 19,000 people were expected to lose their long term unemployment checks – averaging $1,080 per month.
Some economists say cutting benefits will force many workers to accept either part-time or lower paying jobs just to get by. The jobless rate in Indiana has declined compared to last December, when 122,000 people collected unemployment benefits.
Liberal advocacy groups like Americans United for Change have blamed Republicans for slashing funding for extended unemployment benefits. A new TV ad from the group says, "So to the 1.3 million Americans losing benefits, Merry Christmas from the GOP. Tell Republicans to restore unemployment benefits now."
On Wednesday, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development alerted people on its website that federal unemployment benefits would end Saturday. House Republicans say they're open to extending benefits when Congress reconvenes, but only if they're accompanied by spending cuts.
For newly unemployed mom Yashonta Peterson, getting back even some benefits will help.
"That would give me a chance to have some type of income coming in while I'm still looking for work," she said.
Congress won't consider extending unemployment benefits until at least Jan. 7, and even then, some Republicans say it's time to end the program, arguing that it's too expensive.