To the great relief of many job seekers, the Senate Wednesday evening passed a bill providing for extended unemployment benefits. The bill passed 98-0, the AP is reporting. Because the Senate did not vote on the original House bill, but on an expanded version, the House will have to agree to the changes as well. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said earlier this week that the House would take up the legislation right away.
The Senate bill provides additional weeks of benefits for eligible workers in all states, expanding on the House bill's provision for additional benefits in only those states with higher unemployment rates.
The delays in passage of the extension have been a frustrating experience for many Americans facing a still-bleak job market. Roughly 7,000 workers lose their benefits daily, according to an estimate by the National Employment Law Project.
Indeed, Senate Democrats have been tracking online the number of benefit exhaustions since the bill was first delayed. The number was nearing 195,000 when the Senate voted Wednesday evening.
On Friday, the Labor Department will release the October jobs report, and economists are expecting employers to have slashed another 175,000 jobs.