WASHINGTON, July 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law the unemployment benefits extension bill, making millions of Americans who are out of work for six months or more eligible for extended federal assistance.
The measure was approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon after clearing the Senate on Wednesday, ending a seven-week impasse over the legislation.
The bill, with a price tag of 34 billion dollars, would restore benefits to more than 2.5 million unemployed people who have seen their checks cut off since the emergency program expired on June 2.
The new measure authorizes unemployed workers to draw up to 99 weeks of aid through November averaging 309 dollars a week. That includes 26 weeks of basic aid offered by states, plus long-term federal payments.
The Obama administration has signaled that it may seek another renewal of benefits in November if unemployment remains unacceptably high.
Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 9.5 percent and about 14.6 million people are out of work. The duration of unemployment is even more worrisome. About 43 percent of unemployed workers had been out of work for six months or more and 29 percent of unemployed workers had been jobless for more than a year, according to a report by the Congress Joint Economic Committee.
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