WASHINGTON - With no end in sight to the country's job market woes, the House has agreed to give the jobless in a majority of states another 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits.
The bill, which passed the House 331-83 , approves the extra three months of benefits for those jobless living in 27 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with unemployment rates topping 8.5 percent. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate. The longtime unemployed in states with lower levels of joblessness would not get the extension.
The job market appears to be the last to recover from a recession that officially began in December 2007. Jobless benefits have already been extended to record lengths through federal intervention.
States offer 26 weeks of benefits, with the average payment about $300 a week. But with federal help, including provisions from the economic stimulus bill, the unemployed in states hardest hit by the recession can receive up to 79 weeks of assistance.