The share of jobless Americans receiving unemployment insurance is declining as Congress winds down long-term benefits.
While the unemployed population has fallen by less than 10 percent in the past year, the insurance rolls are down by nearly 25 percent. The latest numbers show 12.7 million unemployed and 5.6 million getting benefits, compared with 13.9 million jobless and 7.3 million receiving aid at the same time last year.
Lauren Heslin of Marietta, Ga., said she received her final check of unemployment insurance last week. She lost her job as a financial analyst in November 2010, and she said the $277 she received each week in benefits amounted to less than a quarter of her former income.
"It barely even put food on the table," she said.
Heslin did not receive the 99 weeks of benefits that have been famous since 2009. Georgia, along with a dozen other states, lost eligibility for the federal Extended Benefits program in April. Earlier this year, Congress and the White House saw to it that Extended Benefits, which provided 20 weeks of aid in states with high unemployment, would gradually phase out in state after state over the course of the year.
The Labor Department said Thursday that 5,223 people received Extended Benefits last week -- down from 525,799 the prior year and more than a million at some points in 2010. After August, no state will be eligible for the program.
That leaves state benefits, which typically last six months, and federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which used to offer 53 weeks of assistance but has been trimmed by Congress as well. (Some states, including Georgia, have even pared back the 26 weeks of state benefits that has been standard since the 1950s.)
Federal unemployment insurance will expire altogether at the end of the year, with benefits stopping abruptly for 2 million Americans, according to worker advocacy group the National Employment Law Project. Despite persistent long-term joblessness -- more than 5 million workers have been unemployed six months or longer -- members of Congress haven't hinted at any plans to preserve the benefits. The National Conference of State Legislatures, for its part, has asked Congress to get on it.
Heslin, who is 43 and has worked in finance for 15 years, said the repercussions of losing her job seem endless.
"We've had to foreclose on our house and file for bankruptcy," she said. "Although our bankruptcy was approved, student loans and IRS are not forgiven in the bankruptcy. We are still being forced to pay hundreds of dollars a month for student loans when I can't even get employment to pay off those loans."
The unemployment rate in Georgia is 9.3 percent.
This story has been updated to reflect the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Rudy Giuliani And The Price Of Milk
While running for president in 2007, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/news_theswamp/2007/04/giulianis_price.html">told</a> a reporter at a Montgomery, Ala., supermarket that he estimates "a gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30, last time I bought one." It must have been a few election cycles since his last trip: The grocery store's website listed milk for $3.38 and bread up to $3.49.
Dan Quayle And Single Mothers
During George H.W. Bush's reelection campaign in 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19920521&id=b1tWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NfADAAAAIBAJ&pg=6921,388223" target="_hplink">scoffed</a> at the "Murphy Brown situation," referring to a television character who had a child out of wedlock. Quayle called the Brown story "totally unreal," adding, "A highly paid professional woman [with a baby] ... give me a break."
Martha Coakley And Shaking Hands
In a display of aloofness that many political observers say led to her defeat by Republican Scott Brown, Democratic Senate candidate and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley erred in <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0110/Coakley_not_sweating_it.html" target="_hplink">brushing off</a> the idea of ramping up her campaigning. When asked whether she was being too apathetic, she referenced one of Brown's ads and fired back, "As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?"
Spiro Agnew And Poor Neighborhoods
Republican vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew, branded as Richard Nixon's go-to guy on cities, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/18/us/spiro-t-agnew-ex-vice-president-dies-at-77.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm" target="_hplink">vowed</a> in 1968 to avoid poor neighborhoods. "If you've seen one slum, you've seen them all," Agnew said.
Gerald Ford And Tamales
While visiting the Alamo in 1976, President Gerald Ford <a href="http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/No-one-told-Ford-tamales-need-to-be-unwrapped-1536700.php" target="_hplink">bit</a> into a tamale through the husk, a faux pas later deemed the "Great Tamales Incident."
George H.W. Bush And Grocery Scanners
President George H.W. Bush caught flak for <a href="http://www.snopes.com/history/american/bushscan.asp" target="_hplink">appearing awed</a> by a supermarket check-out scanner while touring a grocers convention in 1992. It turned out the president was being shown a new bar code technology, and the convention worker who was alongside Bush later said it's "foolish to think the president doesn't know anything about grocery stores. He knew exactly what I was talking about."
George W. Bush And Gas Prices
In 2008, President George W. Bush <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/business/worldbusiness/03iht-assess.4.11654214.html?_r=1" target="_hplink">said</a> he had not heard predictions that gas prices could soon hit $4 a gallon. At the time, the national average was $3.29 a gallon.
John Kerry And Cheese Steak
In 2003, Democratic presidential contender John Kerry <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/battle10/244119/bloombergs-john-kerry-cheesesteak-moment-thomas-shakely#" target="_hplink">ordered</a> Swiss cheese on a cheese steak while campaigning in South Philadelphia, straying from the traditional favorite topping, Cheez Whiz.
Michael Dukakis And The Tank
Democratic presidential contender Michael Dukakis <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/01/17/the-photo-op-that-tanked" target="_hplink">tried</a> to one-up Republican opponent George H.W. Bush on national defense by striking a pose in an M1 Abrams tank.
Mitt Romney And Wawa
Mitt Romney has had his fair share of seemingly out-of-touch statements this election cycle, admitting he likes to "fire people" and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/mitt-romney-sandwich-computer-wawa/story?id=16587170#.T-Ca3XBfaUc" target="_hplink">expressing amazement</a> at the touchscreen ordering system at convenience store Wawa.
Barack Obama And The Private Sector
President Barack Obama is not exempt from the "gotcha" moment. In June, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/obama-doing-fine-private-sector_n_1581874.html" target="_hplink">described</a> the private sector economy as "doing fine." The gaffe immediately elicited comparisons with his 2008 Republican opponent, John McCain, who said that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.