Unemployment benefit news update today March 1, 2014:
This week ended with better than expected economic data and this news could be counterproductive for almost two million Americans waiting on a long term unemployment extension. Many lost their benefits in December and have been diligently waiting on policy leaders in the Senate to agree on an extension plan since. Just last month, the Senate decided against multiple plans to extend benefits. Now that recent economic data has improved, some may argue that an extension is not necessary. Policy leaders may argue that, given the improving economic recovery process, job additions will rise and provide gainful employment for those in need.
As the last week concluded, the Commerce Department reported that new home sales moved to a level higher than any seen in over 5 years. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that the economic recovery was moving forward and blamed any hiccups on the bad winter weather. U.S. gross domestic product rose higher and manufacturing activity, as well as consumer sentiment, rose more than expected. This type of data could give policy makers an excuse to avoid passing another long term unemployment benefit extension in 2014. A new unemployment benefit extension could cost approximately $6 billion, but Senate majority leader Harry Reid promises to keep negotiating with lawmakers from both parties to get a bill to the Senate floor to extend federal jobless benefits. It should be noted that since benefits were lost for many as December ended, Senators have been in session for only about 5 weeks. It appears that there was time for recess, twice.