These are the 20 extra weeks that had been provided under a federal program and which raised the maximum amount of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks. In February, Congress agreed to reauthorize this program for another year, but only under certain conditions - and it turns out that California, among other states, didn't qualify. From the SF Chronicle:
People begin receiving Fed-Ed after they have exhausted their regular state benefits - which last up to 26 weeks - and four successive tiers of federal benefits that provide up to 53 weeks combined. Fed-Ed kicks in after tier four ends and provides up to 20 final weeks, for a grand total of 99 weeks. (People who get less than 26 weeks of regular state benefits have their federal benefits reduced on a pro-rata basis, so not everyone got up to 99 weeks.) To qualify for Fed-Ed, your state's average unemployment rate for the past three months must be at least 10 percent higher than the average rate in the same period in at least one of the three previous years.
The National Law Employment Project estimates that two-thirds of all jobless workers qualified for state or federal unemployment insurance in 2010. Last year, it was 54 percent. This year, it will go below 50 percent. From the Washington Post:
Proponents of benefit cuts will sometimes argue that these workers will now be exceptionally motivated to go get hired now that they've been cut off. But how realistic is that? As economist Mark Thoma argues here, there are still 3.4 job seekers for every opening in the job market. That's abnormally high. In fact, it's still higher than at any point in the 2002 recession. And it means that many people answering job ads and sending in resumés are going to come up empty-handed, no matter how motivated they are.
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