WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is stepping up efforts to extend jobless benefits to long-term unemployed Americans, arguing that more than a million people will lose the assistance if it isn't renewed by the end of the month, slowing economic growth.
In a report released Thursday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Labor Department concluded that if Congress allows benefits, to expire 3.6 million people will lose access to the benefits by the end of 2014.
Democrats are pressing for legislation continuing a program in place since 2008 that gives federally paid benefits to jobless people after their 26 weeks of state benefits run out. Republicans in the GOP-controlled House oppose it.
"Despite ten consecutive quarters of GDP growth and 7.8 million private sector jobs added since early 2010, the unemployment rate is unacceptably high at 7.3 percent, and far too many families are still struggling to regain the foothold they had prior to the crisis," the report states.
The report notes that Congress has renewed the benefits when unemployment has been lower than the current 7.3 percent. New jobless numbers for November will be released Friday.
The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that the Democratic legislation would cost $25 billion but stimulate the economy by 0.2 percent next year and create 200,000 jobs. Other estimates say the benefits would stimulate the economy by 0.4 percent.