The period of extended unemployment benefits for nearly 4000 Iowans will soon end. The budget deal passed earlier this month by congress does not continue the program into 2014. Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Kerry Koonce says the extension began almost five years ago.
“This has been the longest period in time that congress has ever authorized extended unemployment compensation for those individuals who’ve exhausted their regular benefits during a time of economic downturn,” Koonce says. “There wasn’t even this large of a number of extensions during the ’80s farm crisis.”
State officials have notified the 3,952 Iowans who are currently eligible for “Emergency Unemployment Compensation” that this is the last week they can file a claim. Their final unemployment check will come next week.
“At one point in time in Iowa, individuals could have been eligible for up to 73 weeks of benefits,” Koonce says. “Keep in mind that regular benefits are for 26 weeks, so that’s a pretty lengthy time period added on.”
According to federal officials, almost 229,000 Iowans got extended unemployment benefits at some point between January of 2008 and September of this year. Nationally, about 1.3 million Americans who’ve qualified for extended unemployment benefits will be cut off at the turn of the year. The benefit averages about $300 per week.
The Obama Administration has asked congress to renew the program, saying those benefits are a “critical lifeline for struggling Americans.” A bill pending in the senate would continue the extended unemployment benefits for three more months. Republicans in congress have said there’d have to be cuts elsewhere in the federal budget if the program were to continue.