Thanks to congressional inaction, emergency unemployment insurance for people who've been unemployed longer than six months expired today with long-term unemployment at double the level it's been when such benefits expired after past recessions. That's a very big deal to 1.3 million people who will now not have the jobless benefits that are in many cases what's standing between them and the loss of a home or other basic necessities.
The lapse in emergency unemployment insurance will hit middle-class—or formerly middle-class—people hard:
Unlike food stamps—another safety net program that Congress likes to kick around—Americans don't qualify for unemployment insurance by being poor. In fact, you can only qualify for unemployment benefits if you had a solid work history prior to being laid off. And you can only remain eligible by continuing to search for work.
Roughly 40 percent of Americans who've received long-term unemployment benefits since 2008 had previously earned between $30,000 and $75,000, according to an analysis of Census data by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Earlier research by the Congressional Budget Office has shown that more than two-thirds of recipients had annual incomes more than twice the poverty level and that such households received 70 percent of all unemployment payments.
Still, they're not rich, so Republicans are all too willing to screw them.