Monday, March 29, 2010

Don’t Look Now, But Your Unemployment Just Ran Out

Don’t look now, but your unemployment compensation just ran out. That’s if you lost your job in the early stages of the economic downturn and have been unemployed for most of the time since.

The Senate was unable to vote on extending unemployment compensation because of a filibuster, which came after Republican leaders in the Senate threatened to filibuster every item of business that came before them as retaliation for the health care reform reconciliation bill. They didn’t really mean it — they have let some routine measures go by — but the idea of unemployment compensation was more than they could stomach at the moment.

I’ve been warning that there will be a lot of workers who will go jobless for six years, a scenario never before seen in the U.S. economy. And the possibility of becoming unemployed, and then having no income for a period of time, has to be putting a damper on some households’ spending plans. I expect this effect to show up in the next consumer confidence reading, even if the Senate eventually approves a compromise plan that will extend unemployment for a few more weeks. There is reason to worry that, when it comes to unemployment compensation, the patience of Senate Republicans is starting to wear thin.