A record number of Iowans are facing long-term unemployment — meaning they’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits but still have not found jobs. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, says she hopes Congress will approve another federal extension of unemployment.

“Because a lot of these people – they’ve been unemployed for over a year. And while we’re seeing recovery it’s going to take awhile before we see job growth,” Koonce explains. Some of the unemployed could eventually be rehired by their former employer, but for many of them that won’t be an option.

“Unfortunately we lost a lot of jobs where we completely lost the jobs, you know businesses shut down and those kinds of thins and they’re not coming back, so workers are having to make transitions into new opportunities and that takes time,” Koonce says.

She says between 1,500 and 2,000 jobless Iowans are running out of unemployment benefits each week.

“We’ve never had this kind of number of extensions before. The last time we had really any significant extensions was back in the 80s farm crisis,” Koonce says, “but we didn’t have this great of a number this is really the, for Iowa anyway, the first time we’ve had this large of a number of extensions. So it’s something new that we’re really dealing with.

The current extension proposal is held up in the Senate because of disagreements between Republicans and Democrats about how to pay for it. Republicans want the cost to be offset by reductions elsewhere. Lawmakers already have passed three federal extensions of unemployment benefits.