Federal jobless benefits going to 1.3 million Americans will officially expire on Saturday after Congress failed to extend them before leaving for the holiday.
NPR's Tamara Keith says it "means anyone who has been out of work and getting benefits for more than 6 months will see their weekly checks stop abruptly."
"Advocates point out that without congressional action another 73,000 people will lose benefits each week," she says.
President Obama is urging an extension when Congress returns. House Speaker John Boehner has said he would entertain such a move but that it would have to be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised a January vote on extending benefits by three months.
The Associated Press writes:
"For families dependent on cash assistance, the end of the federal government's 'emergency unemployment compensation' will mean some difficult belt-tightening as enrollees lose their average monthly stipend of $1,166."
"Jobless rates could drop, but analysts say the economy may suffer with less money for consumers to spend on everything from clothes to cars. Having let the 'emergency' program expire as part of a budget deal, it's unclear if Congress has the appetite to start it anew."
As we reported on Thursday, jobless claims fell sharply last week:
"The Employment and Training Administration says there were 338,000 first-time claims filed last week, down 42,000 from the week before.
But, as Bloomberg News says, "the year-end holidays make it difficult to adjust for fluctuations in applications for jobless benefits, a Labor Department official said as the figures were released."