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Two million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits next month if Congress doesn't act quickly.

This would be a disaster for families who will have no money for food, rent, gas or clothing. It would also create hardship for half a million people who could lose their jobs because economic activity will decline.  The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 500,000 jobs would be saved by extending the unemployment benefits through 2011. Reports EPI,

UI benefits for the long-term unemployed give the economy a particularly big boost because long-term unemployed workers are very unlikely to have any choice but to immediately spend their unemployment benefits. The resulting spending on rent, groceries, and other necessities saves and creates jobs throughout the economy. For this reason, government spending on unemployment insurance benefits during a downturn is recognized by the Congressional Budget office (CBO) as one of the most efficient things that can be done to create new jobs.

Extending unemployment benefits is extremely popular with the American people. Three out of four say it's too soon to cut back on unemployment benefits, according to a poll released today.

Members of Congress are returning to work this week, but they have very little time to act before the Thanksgiving break. Advocates for extending jobless benefits will try to flood the Congressional switchboard tomorrow with calls from people urging them to extend unemployment benefits. You can pitch in through US Action's website.

Or you can sign a petition here .

Cross posted from Teamster Nation.

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