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LI economist urges jobless-benefits extension

Economist Gary Huth

Economist Gary Huth Credit: Newsday file photo

The prospect that 28,000 Long Islanders could lose crucial extended unemployment benefits by the end of next month unless Congress passes new legislation could have a chilling effect on the Island’s nascent recovery, an economist said.

“We could lose the equivalent of 28,000 minimum wage jobs,” said Gary Huth, left, the New York State Labor Department’s principal economist for Long Island.

That  could amount to $8 million a week in lost income, he said.

“We’re improving but we’re not improving at a pace that we need to cut these unemployment benefits,” Huth said.

And without new legislation the number of Long Islanders losing the extensions could double to 56,000 by May 1, the New York State Labor Department announced last week. Around the state 200,000 unemployed workers could lose benefits by the end of next month and could double to 400,000 by May 1.

The Island had 102,400 unemployed workers as of October. While that number is down from 104,500 a year earlier, it is still significantly higher than the 55,000 in October 2007, before the recession hit. While the Island has been adding jobs for the past seven months, employment growth still remains weak.

Prospects for passage don’t look good so far. A measure to extend the eligibility deadline to Feb. 28, failed in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

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