Unemployment benefits end Saturday - KCTV5

Unemployment benefits end Saturday

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

More than a million Americans will lose their long-term unemployment benefits Saturday.

They started during the recession and are set to end, meaning people who have been out of work for more than six months will not have any cash assistance.

These are people who have been looking for work for at least a year and they are often referred to as the long-term unemployed. In Missouri, that's about 22,000 people and in Kansas that's about 3,800.

The Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program was put in place by President George W. Bush during the recession to help those who failed to find work after their state benefits ran out.

Jobless benefits average about $300 per week or $1,200 a month. At the height of the recession, there were eight people competing for every job. Now, it's about five.

While that is a slight improvement, critics say it hasn't improved enough to cut off benefits to the long-term unemployed.

"You had a number of skilled people and unskilled people who, in the earlier recessions, it was at the lower tier. In this recession, it's all tiers," said Clyde McQueen with the Full Employment Council of Kansas City, MO.

President Barack Obama called this an "urgent economic priority" and said he'll push Congress to address it when congress reconvenes next year. There is already a bipartisan bill awaiting a vote in the senate to extend the benefits.

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