(AP) Long-term unemployed workers in states with persisting high joblessness soon would no longer be able to count on unemployment benefit checks for up to 99 weeks under legislation before Congress.
Under this week's compromise for extending a Social Security tax cut through the rest of 2012, federal unemployment benefits for people who have been out of work more than six months are being scaled back.
If Congress passes the bill and President Barack Obama signs it into law, the current maximum 99 weeks of benefits will gradually fall to 73 weeks by September. For people in all but about a dozen of the highest unemployment states, the benefits will be cut off after 63 weeks.
Democrats had hoped to keep the number as close as possible to 99 weeks, arguing that the benefits are critical for those struggling to make ends meet and provide a boost to the economy. Republicans wanted to reduce the maximum time span for benefits to 59 weeks, saying too many people don't seriously look for a job until the government checks quit coming.
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