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Losing Federal Jobless Benefits Could Be Costly To State

Kate Hiscock via Flickr

More than a quarter million Floridians could be out of luck - and out of money - if Congress doesn't extend their unemployment benefits before the end of the year. Economists are saying it could impact the state economy, and also younger workers looking for their first break.

260,000 unemployed people have been collecting the federal benefits since their state benefits ran out. But, under a pending budget deal in Congress, those federal benefits are likely to stop on December 27. That will trigger several results. Their spending will slow or stop altogether, reducing the state's economic growth. Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness,  says many will panic, lower their career standards and apply for jobs they would not have considered before.

"It impacts the lower end of the labor force", explained Snaith. "Unskilled workers are suddenly competing with people that have more experience or more education, that historically would not be competing with them."

Snaith says those younger workers will lose out on ground floor opportunities that used to lead to good careers. The extended job benefits are important to the long-term unemployed, even though it's not a lot of money. Florida offers only 19 weeks of unemployment, fewer than most other states. The average benefit is $232 a week - the fourth lowest in the country.