Economic news and Unemployment Benefit Extension Update today February 26, 2014:
U.S. consumer confidence dropped lower this month according to the recent Conference Board report. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index dipped lower to 78.1 this month from 79.4 in January. Consumer confidence is declining alongside hopes for a long term benefit extension.
It has been two months since over a million Americans exhausted their long term unemployment benefits and Congress has been unable to support a measure to extend these benefits again. More Americans lose long term benefits every week and so confidence that Congress will pass an extension is fading.
Some policy leaders report that the economy is improving, but the last two monthly job reports aren’t adding up. U.S. employers added only 113,000 jobs in January after only adding 75,000 jobs in December. The Federal Reserve continues to taper its current economic stimulus plan. These facts paint a bleak outlook for America’s unemployed. The conditions will make it difficult for many Americans to find gainful employment and the lack of federal aid will increase the challenge. The silver lining is that the Senate is preparing to take action again. This time though, it appears that focus will be on something more long-term instead of a three month extension. Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island recently said that he was thinking of a plan that would be of a longer duration. The new plan to be pitched is expected to extend benefits for another six months and would be retroactive.