Many Americans on unemployment benefits may lose ability to make ends meet

Long-term unemployment benefits to end for mi... 02:42

WASHINGTON -- At midnight Friday, life will change for more than 1.3 million Americans who have been without a job for 27 weeks or more. They've had long-term unemployment benefits, but those end as the new federal budget kicks in.

The nation has never cut off extended jobless benefits with a national unemployment rate of 7 percent. CBS News found two Americans in states with even higher jobless rates; they are about to lose their benefits and the ability to make ends meet.


Lynn Richards CBS News
 Thirty-year-old Lynn Richards lives in Elgin, Ill. A mother of a 14-year-old son with another child due in a month, she's been out of work since April. Her $500 a week in extended jobless benefits disappear Saturday.

"It's definitely a fear of the unknown, not having a major income in our household when we live pretty much paycheck to paycheck," she says. "It's going to affect mortgage, bill pays, anything that we do as a family, car payments, that kind of thing, so it's scary."

The unemployment rate in Illinois is 8.7 percent. To Richards, a former purchasing agent, the economic recovery is just a rumor.

"It's hard on your self esteem," she says. "You don't feel like you're contributing to society, it's very frustrating, feeling essentially useless."

Paul Hallsey lives in New York City. He lost his job in educational publishing in June. The state's jobless rate is 7.4 percent. Hallsey's jobless benefits of $375 a week will expire in a matter of days.


Paul Hallsey CBS News
 "I've had seven interviews, I've answered over 500 ads, but I haven’t had any job offers," he says. "My unemployment is going to run out next week, and I'm going to have no income whatsoever."

It costs $25 billion to extend jobless benefits for one year. President Barack Obama is asking Republicans to extend them for three months and worry about the cost later, but that's a nonstarter and no help to Richards, Hallsey or thousands of other jobless Americans just like them.

The president is calling sympathetic senators -- Republicans and Democrats -- and the Senate is poised to act after the beginning of the new year, but House Republicans say if the president really wanted to extend the benefits, he would have fought for them and provided offsetting cuts in the budget deal he just signed. When the president didn't do that, House Republicans interpreted that as a sign he wasn't altogether that serious and the pressure, for awhile, was off them.