Tampa Bay Online: "Deadline looms for millions of unemployed Floridians"

Kevin Wiatrowski reporting in the Tampa Tribune on the long-term unemployed and 99ers in Florida state:

Since August 2009, nearly 5 million Floridians have (lived on an unemployment check), seeking help from the three types of unemployment benefits now available: state unemployment benefits and federal emergency and extended benefits. As of July, 2.6 million of them had exhausted some or all those benefits, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Thousands more Floridians could find themselves in the same boat by early 2012. That's when the last few federal unemployment checks will end if federal officials can't agree on another extension. The bulk of federal and state unemployment benefits run out between Christmas and New Year's, according to Workforce officials.

What remains – short-term state benefits – will be available for the newly laid-off. But the length of those benefits will drop to a maximum of 23 weeks in January and could go as low as 12 weeks as the statewide unemployment rate falls, according to legislation passed this year.

The result is likely to be an immediate drop in consumer spending and a greater burden on charities and government programs.

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