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Texas eyes may be upon Congress to extend jobless relief

While states in the nation's midsection, including Texas, experience plummeting temperatures due to a major cold snap, lawmakers in Congress are being challenged to deal with another issue that threatens to plunge a lot of people into a hazardous fiscal freeze.

Emergency unemployment benefits that had been in force for the more than 1 million out-of-work Americans expired over the weekend. In Texas, that means that some 77,000 individuals could be thrown into economic distress. That has sparked a move in Washington for extending unemployment benefits again -- at least for a few months.

There's a big question about whether the necessary support exists to see the proposal pass. 

These can be particularly trying times for those who have been suffering from long-term unemployment. In some respects they may be in a sort of Catch-22 situation. Unable to find work, they may be facing repossession of their vehicle. Without access to a vehicle, their efforts at job hunting are likely stymied. By consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, it may be possible to protect such a critical asset.

One of the major concerns of officials related to the expiration of the current emergency unemployment benefits is that it could produce a significant drag on what has proven to be a slower-than-desired economic recovery. Obama administration officials say the jobless benefits represent a critical lifeline for recipients. Some observers say if they aren't extended, the situation could worsen through 2014 as Texas state benefits run out.

Statistics indicate that the state's unemployment rate is lower than the national average. But data also shows that the number of long-term unemployed Texans is riding much higher than it did after previous recessions, and that clearly has some worried.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Texas’ long-term unemployment benefits end this weekend," Sheryl Jean, Dec. 27, 2013

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