Inside the U.S. Capitol (Pic by ThatMakesThree, via Flickr)

The failure of the congressional “Super Committee” to reach an agreement jeopardizes the federal unemployment benefits of almost 2 million unemployed workers, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The “Super Committee” is made up by 12 lawmakers — three Senate Democrats, three Senate Republicans, three House Republicans and three House Democrats — charged with drafting legislation to cut at least $1.2 trillion out of the deficit over the next 10 years.

The National Employment Law Project — which promotes “policies and programs that create good jobs, strengthen upward mobility, enforce hard-won worker rights, and help unemployed workers” — wrote Monday:

The real failure of the Joint Select Committee is not the lack of a deficit-cutting agreement, which poses no threat to the economy, but rather the failure to reauthorize the federal unemployment insurance programs that expire on December 31st. Unless Congress acts promptly, the economy will take another hit in the New Year as two million unemployed workers will lose the modest federal benefits they rely on to get by and that, in turn, support businesses in their communities.

Not eveybody agrees on the impact of the committee’s failure to reach cuts. Accoeding to Mark Zandi, chief analyst at Moody’s Analytics, “the economy will suffer in 2012 if a congressional supercommittee fails to come up with ways to trim the country’s deficits.”

March 2011 report (.pdf) issued by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy and the National Employment Law Project indicates that “unemployment compensation has provided a net benefit to Florida’s economy of over $9.8 billion since the beginning of the recession, combining both the state program and federal extension programs.”

A study released in October by the conservative Tax Foundation shows that Florida has the fifth lowest unemployment benefits in the country.

The Employment Law Project adds that “over the past three years, federal unemployment insurance has helped more than 17 million Americans while they’ve looked for new work in the toughest job market since the Great Depression.”

“Hanging on By a Thread,” a National Employment Law Project report issued in October, indicates that:

  • 1.8 million workers who currently receive federal unemployment insurance or would have begun to receive it will be cut off if Congress does not renew the program before it expires on December 31st.
  • Of these 1.8 million workers, more than 430,000 were laid off as recently as July and will reach the end of their state benefits in January without the prospect of any federal relief, if Congress fails to act.
  • Nearly 650,000 workers in 33 states and the District of Columbia will face an immediate “hard” cut‐off of their benefits in January.
  • Congress has never cut back on federally‐funded unemployment insurance when unemployment was anywhere near this high for this long. The highest unemployment rate when federal benefits were cut by Congress was in 1985, at 7.2 percent. Today, the unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent.
  • Unemployment insurance kept 3.2 million people (including nearly one million children) from falling into poverty.

The study adds that the average unemployment monthly benefit amounts to almost $1,300 — “only half of basic household expenditures.”

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