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GDP Jumps 3.2% as the Clock Ticks for the Unemployed

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted April 30, 2010


unemployment line


According to the BEA this morning, the U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent rate in the first quarter of this year, roughly in line with estimates.

Growth was anchored by a rebound in consumer spending, which posted the biggest gain since 2007 before the recession actually began. According to the data, the all important consumers increased spending by 3.6 percent.

That marked the third straight quarterly gain in GDP even though the figure was down from the 5.6% growth rate posted in the fourth quarter as businesses restocked inventories and the government spent heavily to stimulate the economy.

In all, GDP growth is running at a 2.5% rate over the past four quarters, following the worst downturn in generations.

However, that is of little solace to millions of people still unemployed-including the almost one million that are about to be pushed over a cliff.

From Bloomberg by Brian Faler entitled: More Than a Million in U.S. may Lose Jobless Benefits

“Since the U.S. recession began in December 2007, Congress has extended the length of unemployment benefits for the jobless three times. Now, the lawmakers may have reached their limit.

They are quietly drawing the line at 99 weeks of aid, a mark that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already reached. In coming months, the number of those who will receive their final government check is projected to top 1 million.

It’s a deadline that has rarely been mentioned in recent debates over jobless benefits, in which Republicans have delayed aid because of cost concerns. The deadline hasn’t been lost on Teauna Stephney, a 39-year-old single mother from Bothell, Washington, who said she could become homeless once her $407 weekly checks stop in June.

“What are people like me supposed to do?” said Stephney, who said almost two years of benefits haven’t proved long enough for her to find work after she lost her last job in August 2008. Referring to lawmakers, she said, “I would like them to come and talk to me and spend a day in my shoes.”

Democrats who have pushed through the past extensions agree there’s insufficient backing to go beyond 99 weeks, largely because of mounting concern over the federal deficit, projected to reach $1.5 trillion this year.

“You can’t go on forever,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, of Montana, whose panel oversees the benefits program. “I think 99 weeks is sufficient,” he said.

“There’s just been no discussion to go beyond that,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat.

Unemployment aid has become one of the federal budget’s fastest-growing components, with costs this year likely to reach $200 billion. That’s six times what was typically spent before the recession.

About 3.4 million Americans — approximately the population of Connecticut — have been out of work for more than a year, according to a study by the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative.”

Have a great weekend….

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