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Jobless Aid Splits Parties, Experts

Wall Street Journal (12/11/13) Josh Mitchell

The budget agreement hammered out by federal lawmakers excludes an extension of jobless benefits, which has upset many Democrats. According to White House estimates, when the program ends on Dec. 28, around 1.3 million jobless workers will lose their unemployment payments. Republicans insist that after more than five years, it is time to end the extended benefits, which they believe offer a disincentive for people to find jobs.

The debate now centers on whether the economy has improved to the point where an extension is not necessary, with Democrats arguing that the labor market remains weak and long-term unemployment remains at historically high levels. Economists say the aid has added as much as one percentage point to the unemployment rate, and they note that the expiration of the extended benefits would only modestly impact the U.S. recovery.