Yesterday, President Obama signed the bill that restores unemployment benefits to people who have been unemployed for six months or more. He criticized delays in the bill's passage (the House voted 272-152, mostly on party lines) due to disagreements on other economic stimulus ideas, "Americans who are working day and night to get back on their feet and support their families in these tough economic times deserve more than obstruction and partisan game-playing."
The Republicans accuse the President and Democrats supporting the bill of adding to the deficit, while Obama has pointed out other Republican Presidents and Congress have considered unemployment an emergency expenditure. According to the AP, "At stake are up to 73 weeks of federally financed benefits for people who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state jobless benefits. About half of the approximately 5 million people in the program have had their benefits cut off since its authorization expired June 2."
The NY State Department of Labor told the Daily News that nearly 200,000 unemployed New Yorkers had qualified for the extension, but hadn't received any payments since the expiration: "The state hopes to begin mailing lump-sum back payments to enrollees as early as next week. The bill also allows New York to continue providing extended unemployment benefits - to a maximum of 93 weeks per recipient - through Dec. 5. The state's average weekly unemployment payment is $330."
An economist with the Economic Policy Institute offered explanations to debunk five myths of unemployment.