Next month, another 70,000 US workers will be cut off of unemployment benefits weeks earlier than would have been the case had President Obama and Congress not reduced the duration of extended jobless pay. The early loss of benefits in June will come on top of early cutoffs for more than 200,000 workers two weeks ago as a result of the anti-working class bill brokered by the White House in February.
That bill, which extended a payroll tax cut, included provisions reducing the maximum duration of jobless benefits over the course of this year from 99 weeks to 73 weeks in states with official jobless rates above 9 percent. In most other states, the maximum will be slashed from 93 to 63 weeks. It also incorporated provisions making it harder to obtain benefits, including allowing states to carry out the demeaning practice of drug-testing laid-off workers applying for relief.
The June cutoffs will bring the number of people stripped of benefits thus far due to the bipartisan assault on jobless pay to nearly half a million. This is in addition to the millions of workers who exhausted their benefits prior to the enactment of the February bill. A report issued earlier this year by the Government Accountability Office estimated that 5.5 million workers who lost their jobs between 2007 and 2009 had exhausted their benefits by the end of 2011.
Thirty-three states have thus far cut back on federally-funded extended benefits, and all fifty will do so by September. This is in addition to a growing number of states that have cut the traditional 26 weeks of regular state-provided benefits.