Extended federal jobless benefits, put in effect as the economy tumbled into recession in 2008, are over in Idaho, leaving 6,000 people without any unemployment checks.
But even as the program ends in Idaho, the Associated Press is reporting that an extension of the federal benefit could be part of a Congressional package to avoid the fiscal cliff.
In Idaho, eligible workers will get their past checks this week. The average check is $248.
Since the program began, 95,000 Idaho workers have received a total $900 million in federally financed extended benefits. The money created $1.61 in economic activity for every dollar spent, the Idaho Department of Labor said. Benefit checks are spent on items such as rent, utilities, food, and clothing.
Idahos unemployment rate has dropped dramatically over the past 16 months, from 8.9 percent to 6.8 percent in November, Deputy Director John McAllister of the Idaho Department of Labor said. But competition for available jobs remains stiff."
Much of Idaho's improved jobless numbers, however, reflect a shrinking workforce, not people who got jobs. Extended benefits added up to 73 weeks of unemployment checks for workers on top of the maximum 26 weeks in state benefits they could receive.
President Barack Obama has sought extension of unemployment benefits as part of a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, but the benefits ended on the week of Dec. 29, state unemployment officials say. About 15,000 workers are receiving regular benefits.