federal unemployment

Unemployment line in California
Michael Raphael / Flickr

Anybody who's out of work in Michigan knows they can't get an unemployment check for as long as they used to. 

Ever since the federal government stopped offering emergency benefits extensions at the end of last year, Michiganders can get just 20 weeks of jobless benefits.

They used have up to 99 weeks, back when the recession was at its worst.

For months now, Democrats and a handful of Republicans have been trying to get those extensions up and running again. 

But some Republicans say no.

Bytemarks / flickr

More than 1.6 million Americans have lost their unemployment insurance since the end of 2013.

Congress allowed federal legislation designed to give job seekers unemployment benefits to expire on Dec. 28.

Congressional Democrats have called on Republicans to support legislation that would revive unemployment benefits.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, who authored legislation to extend unemployment benefits, said partisan gridlock could cause the number of people without unemployment benefits to double by the end of the year.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Congress is on recess.

So the debate over extending federal emergency unemployment benefits has moved from Washington to local congressional districts. 

The benefits were created during the recession to help the long-term unemployed.   But the emergency benefits expired at the end of December.