Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
A vital lifeline for the jobless is starting to slip away. Extended unemployment benefits, running beyond the traditional 26 weeks, will end for millions of Americans if Congress does not approve additional funding.
In New York State, that means 200,000 people in will stop collecting benefits by December 31.
Already, paying out all those checks has depleted state coffers.
"Our unemployment insurance trust fund has been insolvent almost two years," said Colleen Gardner, State Commissioner of Labor. "We're gonna owe $3.2 billion starting next year."
Gardner estimates it could take as long as nine years to repay funds the state borrowed from the federal government.
To try to make a dent in that debt, employers will pay a surcharge of .275 percent on every worker's salary, starting next year.
The state's unemployment rate was 8.3 percent percent in October, compared with 9.6 percent nationwide.