Foster, 45, is a single mom raising a 12-year-old son in Naugatuck, Conn. She was laid off in January from a civil engineering construction job, but believes she's close to landing a new job. She also knows it could still be a few more months before she is actually hired.
"I don't know if I should buy my son Christmas presents," Foster said. Looming in front of her is the week of Dec. 28, when she and 1.3 million other jobless Americans are scheduled to lose federal unemployment benefits.
That's when an emergency program to help the long-term unemployed like Foster will expire. During the Great Recession of 2007-2009, when the unemployment rate climbed to more than 10%, the government extended federal benefits to jobless Americans, whose state unemployment insurance had run out.
Those benefits have been either extended or expanded 11 times, since being first enacted in June 2008. The last time was in Jan. 2, as part of a measure to avert the "fiscal cliff." Read more >>