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Benefits are cut in US for 2 million jobless

[ 2010-12-02 14:41]     字号 [] [] []  
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Extended unemployment benefits for nearly 2 million Americans begin to run out on Wednesday, cutting off a steady stream of income and guaranteeing a dismal holiday season for people already struggling with bills they cannot pay.

Unless Congress changes its mind, benefits that had been extended up to 99 weeks will end this month.

That means Christmas is out of the question for Wayne Pittman, 46, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and his wife and 9-year-old son. The carpenter was working up to 80 hours a week at the beginning of the decade, but saw that gradually drop to 15 hours before it dried up completely. His last $297 check will go to necessities, not presents.

The average weekly unemployment benefit in the US is $302.90, though it varies widely depending on how states calculate the payment. Because of supplemental state programs and other factors, it's hard to know for sure who will lose their benefits at any given time. But the Labor Department estimates that, without a Congress-approved extension, about 2 million people will be cut off by Christmas.

Congressional opponents of extending the benefits beyond this month say fiscal responsibility should come first.

Republicans in the House and Senate, along with a handful of conservative Democrats, say they are open to extending benefits, but not if it means adding to the $13.8 trillion national debt.

Ninety-nine weeks may seem like a long time to find a job. But even as the economy grows, jobs that vanished have not returned. The private sector added about 159,000 jobs in October - half as many as needed to reduce the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, which the Federal Reserve expects will hover around 9 percent for all of next year.


1. How many people will lose unemployment benefits in the US?

2. How long had they been extended?

3. What is the average weekly unemployment benefit in the US?


1. Nearly 2 million Americans.

2. Up to 99 weeks.

3. $302.90, though it varies widely depending on how states calculate the payment.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Benefits are cut in US for 2 million jobless

About the broadcaster:

Benefits are cut in US for 2 million jobless

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.