WASHINGTON — The tax-cut bill President Barack Obama is expected to sign Friday renews unemployment benefits for millions of unemployed people. But it does nothing for hundreds of thousands who have been unemployed so long they’ve used up all benefits available to them.
In the 25 states with unemployment of at least 8.5 percent, people can receive up to 99 weeks in aid. In other states, the unemployed get less than 99 weeks — in some cases just 60 weeks, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
The bill keeps 99 weeks as the maximum anyone can receive. It doesn’t provide any more weeks of benefits to people who have reached the limit in their state. Those who have exhausted all benefits are sometimes known as “99ers,” even though the duration of their benefits varies by state.
The legislation renews federal programs that extend benefits beyond the 26 weeks states always provide. The extended benefits expired Nov. 30.
The Labor Department says it doesn’t know how many Americans have already used all jobless benefits. But the number reaches well into the hundreds of thousands.
In California, 5,000 unemployed people use up their extended benefits each week. And 274,185 will have exhausted 99 weeks of benefits by the end of the year.
In Florida, 105,011 people have run out of benefits. In New York, 125,284 out-of-work people have stopped receiving unemployment checks because they’ve exhausted their 99 weeks of benefits.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in August introduced legislation that would help the 99ers by tacking on another 20 weeks of benefits. But her bill has gone nowhere in a Congress that’s been reluctant to spend more federal money to jolt the economy.