White House officials and Democrats in Congress argue that such figures illustrate the need for extended unemployment benefits, which are set to expire Dec. 28. The extended benefits program provides 28 extra weeks in most states, paid for by the federal government, on top of the 26 weeks typically available.
If that program lapses, 1.3 million people will immediately lose benefits. An additional 800,000 would do so in the first two months of 2014. The White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill have stepped up their support for extending the extra benefits as part of budget talks.