Nearly 170,000 unemployed living in the tri-state area have suddenly lost their safety net as jobless aid extensions expired on Saturday. And the cuts are not over.
Congress failed to extend the temporary jobless aid put in place during the recession before leaving Washington for the holidays. The result will leave 1.3 million Americans nationwide without the benefits as of Dec. 28.
With the extensions expiring, unemployed living in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware will only be able to collect benefits for 26 weeks – a cut of more than half. Currently, the jobless can collect benefits for 63 weeks.
The tri-state is one of the worst affected regions in the United States.
Immediately, 79,000 N.J. residents will lose access to the safety net, according to data from the Labor Department and Democratic Committee on Ways and Means. Initial projections put the number at more than 93,000. Another 89,100 people become ineligible for benefits in the first half of 2014. Those numbers are especially tough since N.J. has the highest unemployment rate in our area at 7.8-percent, according to the most recent stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Jersey residents with questions about the looming cuts can visit the New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development's website.
In Pa., where the unemployment rate stands at 7.3-percent, nearly 87,000 people will go without their benefits starting this weekend. In the first half of the new year, an additional 92,900 people will lose assistance.
Philadelphia, with a poverty rate sitting at 26.2-percent, will be affected most by these cuts in the Commonwealth. According to state county-by-county breakdowns, nearly 12,000 people in the city accept federal unemployment benefits.
More than 8,000 Delawareans will go without unemployment benefits by the first half of the new year – 3,600 immediately. The state has the lowest unemployment rate of the three at 6.5-percent.
But there could be some hope on the horizon. U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) are leading a bipartisan push to extend the benefits for three months, msnbc reports. However, that plan will not even be discussed until Congress returns from the holidays in January 2014.
Here's a state-by-state breakdown map of the data compiled by The Washington Post: