Tens of thousands of unemployed North Carolinians will run out of federal benefits at the end of this week.
On Saturday, the federal government will end its extension of unemployment benefits, which began during the recession in 2008. There are about 87,000 unemployed North Carolinians who are currently relying on federal benefits because they've already exceeded the maximum state benefits.
Larry Parker is a spokesman for the state Department of Commerce. He said it will be the biggest avalanche of people losing benefits at once the state has ever had, and it could have an effect on the state economy.
"We're talking about $25 million a week that is paid out in those benefits statewide, and that's money that goes to pay for bills, that's money that goes to retailers, grocery stores, gas stations," Parker said. "Folks who are on unemployment don't stash the cash away in savings. They spend it, and they spend it usually right away."
President Obama wants to include another extension of unemployment benefits as part of a deal on the fiscal cliff. (As a reminder, that's the massive spending cuts and tax increases set for January if Congress doesn't act.) Some Republicans say another extension of benefits would cost too much.