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UPDATE: Long-term unemployment benefit expires for 1 million households

UPDATED Saturday, December 28, 2013 --- 4:35 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Holiday cheer may be a little harder to come by in more than a million American households starting today.

The nation's long-term unemployed will be abruptly cut off from federal unemployment benefits after lawmakers left Washington without voting on an extension. Recipients will lose an average monthly stipend of $1,166.

While top Senate Democrat Harry Reid says the chamber will vote early next month on extending the benefits, one Ohio woman who lost her job in February says the damage has been done -- saying Congress "shut down my lifeline for my family."

House Speaker John Boehner has said he's open to extending the benefits, but only if accompanied by spending cuts elsewhere to cover the cost.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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Posted Thursday, December 26, 2013 --- 9:23 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 42,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 338,000, the biggest drop since November 2012. But economists say the figures from late November and December are warped by seasonal volatility around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays.

The Labor Department says the less-volatile four-week average rose 4,250 to 348,000.

Claims had jumped 75,000 the two weeks that ended Dec. 14 before plunging last week.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs and are now consistent with a solid job market.

Hiring has been healthy the past four months. The economy added an average of 204,000 jobs every month from August through November, an improvement from earlier this year.

The unemployment rate fell in November to 7 percent.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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