Will extended unemployment benefits cut impact Oklahoma?
More than 1-million Americans will lose federal unemployment benefits on Saturday. The program was signed into law in 2008 but wasn't included in the latest budget deal.
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) law was enacted during the recession to extend unemployment benefits for Americans who were having a hard time finding work. Congress extended that 11 times, but that lifeline has now been cut.
"What that basically means is this is the last week for which anybody nationwide can collect these EUC benefits," said John Carpenter from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
It's a check that 1.3-million Americans rely on every week, but that help has now expired.
"It's estimated around 4,900 Oklahomans will be affected by this," said Carpenter.
That number is a far cry from the nearly 32,000 claims handed out in Oklahoma in 2011. It's a sign that our economy is improving and extended unemployment benefits may be costing more than helping.
"I think of it as probably something that needed to be done at some point," said Jonathan Willner, Professor of economics at OCU.
Willner says to the individuals losing these benefits, the impact will be significant, but the economic impact to our state as a whole will be minimal.
"Almost nothing. It's just not that many people nor that much money on the scale of the overall economy," he said.
In fact, it may have a positive impact. For those who are capable of getting a job and just didn't, this may be a nudge in the right direction.
"This is sort of an end to the gravy train and they'll go ahead and take the job they would have taken six months ago, but for the extended benefits," said Willner.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed a short-term extension for three months. President Obama says the abrupt cut-off will hurt economic growth and jobs. The cut is a holiday gift 1-million Americans didn't ask for, but it's one that Willner doesn't think will have lasting effects.
"It's just not a lot of people overall," he said. "So we're not going to see a massive effect of it across the board."
Oklahoma does have resources for those losing extended unemployment benefits. The Workforce Oklahoma Center offers free resume assistance, career consulting and workshops.