A break for the unemployed

Clark Behind The Headlines

From HLN's Money Expert Clark Howard

I know that when I talk about job market improvements, and if you’re someone that’s unemployed or you know someone that has been going through a lengthy period of unemployment, those words may hurt.  It’s just one of the cruel things about economics that an economy goes months of improving before the job picture improves.  But, the jobs do come.  It’s just always a question of how long. You really have to go back to the 1930’s to go back to a period of time when unemployment cycles have been this rotten.

With that in mind, the U.S. Congress just passed an extension of something that happened last year.  You may be eligible for just under 2 years of unemployment benefits. It varies according to the state you’re in and what the unemployment is in that state.  In the past, many states unemployment benefits lasted 26 weeks.  Then it went to 46, then 59, and then 79 and then eventually it went to 92.  Most recently it went to 99 weeks.  Now not everyone in every state is eligible for 99 weeks.

In addition to that, congress extended special benefits for people to continue health coverage.  There has been a subsidy for people under the Cobra program.  Cobra is where, if you work for a large enough employer, you can continue your health coverage for up to 18 months, and in certain situations, you can continue it for up to 36 months.  But you pay their true unsubsidized cost for health care which can be an eye popping figure.  But one of the subsidies that have been available in the great recession that continues is the subsidy of the cobra premiums.  And with any of this stuff, the rules do vary by state.

But I want to emphasize again our unemployment problem in the United States is not permanent.  It is not.  The economic cycle has turned and barring some unexpected event that would lead us to a double dipper recession, the jobs are coming back.

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