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Most Americans Using Jobless Benefits Say They Don't Cover Basic Needs: Poll

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The majority of Americans using unemployment benefits say it's not enough to cover their basic needs.

Sixty-six percent of Americans using unemployment benefits say they're still struggling to find enough money for basic necessities such as food and shelter, a New York Times/CBS News poll finds. As a result, many of the 14 million unemployed have been forced to use their savings or go without basic needs such as health care.

The poll mirrors the findings of other reports indicating that Americans' are struggling to get access to necessities; Americans' ability to get food, shelter and health care is at recession lows, according to Gallup.

Even as jobless Americans say their benefits aren't enough to cover the cost of living, the program is in danger of being cut. The White House said last month that 6 million Americans will lose their benefits if Congress fails to reauthorize extended unemployment insurance. President Barack Obama included a plan to reauthorize the unemployment benefits extension that Congress authorized in 2007 in response to the economic downturn.

Many Republicans say they are opposed to the measure because of its $50 billion cost. Despite the hesitancy to reauthorize the extension, cutting long-term unemployment benefits will do little to drive down the jobless rate, according to a recent study.

Still, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged Congress to act last month to combat joblessness, calling long-term unemployment a "national crisis" in a speech in Cleveland. Bernanke said that 45 percent of jobless Americans have been out of work for 6 months or more.

For a growing number of America's unemployed, though, jobless benefits are completely out of reach. More than 2 million Americans have been out of work for at least 99 weeks -- the cutoff point for unemployment insurance in states with high unemployment rates. Some of those "99ers" have joined the Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to call attention to their plight.

On Wednesday, Americans on unemployment benefit rolls dropped to a three-year low, according to Bloomberg, indicating slow labor market improvement. Still, the unemployment rate will likely continue to hover around 9 percent for the next few months.

As most of those unemployed Americans say they can't survive on their unemployment insurance, one governor wants to add more requirements for those who want to receive benefits in his state. Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he wants to institute mandatory training for jobless benefits.

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