7 States Hit Hardest by Expiring Unemployment Insurance

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Extended unemployment insurance benefits for approximately 1.37 million Americans are set to expire on December 28. The benefits were extended to the long-term unemployed by the federal government through the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which was enacted in June 2008. The program increased the number of weeks for which an unemployed person could claim benefits, from around 26 to as much as 73.

Unemployment insurance programs are mandated by the federal government but are mostly run and paid for by the states, and those governments have some flexibility in setting requirements and payouts for the insurance. The costs for a supplemental, permanent program called Extended Benefits that can add between 13 and 20 weeks of insurance — depending on the state-level situation — are split between the state and the federal governments. The EUC program was fully funded by the federal government and provides additional insurance on top of the normal and Extended Benefits insurance programs.

The program was put in place to serve as a lifeline for those hardest hit by the financial crisis, and its expiration has been a point of political contention during the recent budget battles. Broadly speaking, liberal Democrats want to extend federal funding for the benefits to the tune of about $25 billion, while conservatives don’t believe extending the program is worth the cost.

At the end of the day, unemployment insurance is normally a state issue, and the expiration of the benefits will affect each state differently. Here are some of the states that will be most severely affected. The data were compiled by The Wall Street Journal.