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The New Economy

Seven states hit hard by Jim Bunning's delay on unemployment benefits

If Congress doesn't overcome Sen. Jim Bunning's resistance to extending unemployment benefits, more than 10,000 unemployed Americans in each of seven states will lose benefits starting this week.

By / March 2, 2010

Senator Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in this Dec. 17 photo. Senator Bunning has delayed a deal in Congress to extend unemployment benefits. Some states will be hit harder than others if Congress doesn't act to reinstate benefits.

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT/File

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As long as Jim Bunning delays a deal in Congress to extend unemployment benefits, states around the country will see unemployed Americans start to lose those benefits.

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But seven states will be hit harder than any others: Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia.

All of them will see an average 10,000 or more workers each week lose their benefits this month if Senator Bunning continues to hold up legislation, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a New York-based advocacy group for employment rights of lower-wage workers.

Take Florida. This month, an average 23,000 of its unemployed residents will lose benefits each week if Congress doesn't act. That's more than any other state – more than triple the number losing benefits in more populous California.

No. 2 New York and No. 3 Texas are not far behind. (Click on the chart at left.)

The variation has to do with how states qualified for the federal extended benefits, says Christine Riordan, a policy analyst with NELP.

Of course, the question facing these unemployed may be more about when they get an unemployment check rather than whether they get one. Congress in the past has extended unemployment benefits and made them retroactive when there were delays.

But even the loss of one weekly check could make life tough for those unemployed in the worst recession in decades.

More than 10,000 unemployed Americans in each of seven states will lose benefits starting this week. What do you think Congress should do? Let us know on Twitter: @CSMecon or Facebook.

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