On November 30, 2010, extended unemployment benefits, which had been expanded by the federal government by a period of 73 weeks (normally individuals can collect a maximum of 26 weeks), expired potentially leaving several million people without a source of income over the holidays. The fate of a further extension has become a political battle between Democrats and Republicans, with the Republicans refusing to consider legislation without a quid pro quo.
Economists say dropping the extended benefits, could reduce annual economic growth by nearly one percent and could cost up to one million jobs. That's because the nearly 10 million people relying on an average $290 a week tend to spend the money immediately on necessities like food and shelter. A yearlong reauthorization of the benefits would cost roughly $60 billion — money that would reverberate quickly throughout the economy.