The Senate failed to advance an extension of benefits on Tuesday after lawmakers devoted a week toward hammering out a deal.
Because the figures for all benefits recipients are released with a two-week lag, the Labor Department has yet to report the impact of the program's end.
There are signs that recent hiring has helped to bolster the economy. Consumer confidence and retail spending have picked up in the October-December quarter. Orders to U.S. manufacturers rose in November, a sign that businesses are investing more on factory-made items such as machinery, computers and electrical goods.
The economy remains far from healthy. Income rose at a slower pace than spending last month, so Americans are spending more but saving less. And sales of existing homes have dropped for three straight months, held back by higher prices and mortgage rates.
Still, many economists have become more optimistic about the fourth quarter. Several are projecting a strong annual growth rate of 3 percent or more.