Local effect of unemployment benefits extension

Senate Democrats have broken a Republican filibuster on extending unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans. The party got the numbers it needed to push the benefits extension forward.

After a final Senate vote, the House is expected to approve the legislation and send it to President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

The measure would be the eighth extension of unemployment benefits since July 2008, at a total cost to taxpayers of more than $120 billion.

But how does this national agenda affect local citizens? The Senate bill will be setting aside additional money for jobless Americans who exhausted their standard 26 weeks of benefits. If passed the jobless benefits would be extended through the end of November, allowing unemployed workers to collect up to two years of additional benefits.

But local authorities suggest that Amarillo and Texas in general will not necessarily feel the impact.

"There are other areas of the country that will be more negatively effected than we are simply because we're in better shape and have been, all through this recession, my sense is that even as we speak we are turning the corner economically in Amarillo and in the Panhandle," said local economist, Karr Ingham.

Senate Republicans objected to the extension because it would add to the rising federal deficit by about $34-billion.

"we should not add to the incredible debt that we already have on everybody in the country, but we ought to cut other spending in order to pay for it if it's going to be a priority," said U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry.

Democrats counter that Republicans are out of touch with the suffering of jobless Americans who need immediate relief.

The national unemployment rate was 9.5 last month, and the unemployment rate in Amarillo is about 6-percent.