Many unemployed Americans are keenly awaiting congressional action on the latest extension of jobless benefits. With a midnight Tuesday deadline looming, some 2 million jobless workers face losing their only source of income in coming weeks as Democrats and Republicans spar over how to pay for the $12 billion extension, which would provide payments through February.

State agencies and businesses are concerned that the cessation of benefits may take a toll on local economies. The payments, which average $310 a week, are a lifeline for many unemployed workers, helping them to pay rent and put food on the table.

'Worst Time of Year' for Benefits to End

Of the roughly 14.8 million Americans out of work, about 8.5 million are receiving unemployment benefits. "This is the worst time of year to be running out of benefits," Nancy Dunphy, New York state's deputy commissioner of labor for employment security, told CNNMoney.com.

Retailers fear the dropped payments will result in fewer sales at a time of year when businesses rely on consumer purchases the most. But the loss of benefits could affect traffic at everyday merchants, too, including gas stations and grocery stores, which are likely to see transactions dwindle as unemployed workers go without.

The subsequent loss in business could result in as many as 700,000 more lost jobs as employers cut back further, according to the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of workers. So far this year, benefits extensions have helped 9.5 million households and pumped roughly $6.8 billion into the economy every month, the organization says.

A Decision Could Come After the Deadline

Not everyone receiving unemployment payments faces losing benefits next month, since it depends on when workers signed up and in which states they live. However, jobless Americans who have exhausted their initial 26 weeks in state benefits are already blocked from applying for federal extended benefits, since the cutoff to apply for those was last weekend, CNNMoney noted.

Amid the recession, the federal government began a multilayer program to extend benefits to workers in hard-hit states. The federal program is divided into four tiers of emergency unemployment compensation, which last between six and 20 weeks, followed by up to five months of extended benefits.

Congress has acted four times in the past year to extend benefits for unemployed workers -- at times doing so after a deadline had passed, resulting in beneficiaries receiving retroactive payments. Whether Democrats can revive legislation to pass yet another extension in the face of Republican opposition remains to be seen.

The topic is expected to top the list of concerns when President Obama and congressional leaders meet briefly Tuesday. Whether an agreement can be reached is unclear, however, leaving those who risk losing benefits in the dark -- at least for now.

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GRACE

My husband is one of the many unemployed we are suffring already if they don't pass the extenion we could be without a place to live. I have not bought 1 present for Christmas but i must pay the bills first. The wealthy people don't care about us as long as their pockets are full.

December 06 2010 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
srailbilputuhs

kool aid kids are up early. Danny boy did you ever go to bed? OH it is the 1st free cheese log day lol

December 01 2010 at 11:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
crimson00king

The GOP is using extortion to get tax breaks for the rich what a sorry lot they are. Americans of either party must agree the rich don't need tax breaks and they have had them for ten years and have not created jobs like they said they would. Are we fools contact your congressmen Senators and the White House and tell them NO TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICH.

December 01 2010 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to crimson00king's comment
srailbilputuhs

You will alway be on welfare you need the rich to pay taxes.So you won't lose you free Obama money.

December 01 2010 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GRACE

Amen Brother

December 06 2010 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
marine1942

99 weeks of welfare--folks, that is enough

December 01 2010 at 8:08 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to marine1942's comment
GRACE

unemployment is not welfare my husband has worked and paided it in for forty years now where is his money,probaly in another country.

December 06 2010 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Darrell & Donna

send all illegals home;stop unemployment stop all give away programs;that make it better to not work than to work';; Farm out all government work to private companys and all jobs bid for;;everyone will find a job;;need to be done 50 years ago;;;;

December 01 2010 at 7:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
frank1946

No Work, No Eat ! Rule for most of us, so go get a job, do something ! Seems like doing what is Right is Wrong ? Only AOL could come up with this story !

December 01 2010 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

Bush, Reagan, and John F Kennedy all reduced taxes on everyone and amazingly, revenues to the government increased as a result. In fact, private sector income rose dramatically. Why? When the wealthy are over taxed, they simply leave the country with their money. When they are treated fairly, they come back, helping all with their investments where they are appreciated.

December 01 2010 at 12:48 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
some1do

U3 is not an accurate indicator of unemployment. There are many people who want a job but they do not qualify for benefits and they are not counted! Real unemployment is about 18-22% right now. Another way to look at unemployment picture is to count who is actually employed: http://www.kondratieffwavecycle.com/unemployment/ Our real problem is not unemployment, or housing, or productive capacity. Our real problem is man made. Self induced. We have borrowed fro the banks for many decades. Banks use fractional reserve bankind and they legally counterfeit money. This new money inflates the prices and salaries. Now our entire money supply is created by the banks like this and it is N. But we promised to pay back N+I, I is the interest. I hope it is obvious to you that entire population cannot possibly be employed with salaries that makes it possible to earn N+I. Thus, bankruptcies, foreclosures are a guaranteed part of this debt based monetary system. But then the question is: If borrowers are guaranteed to fail, why does the bank get to keep the house? When the economy is strained by excessive debt burden like this, do not hope to find employers who can hire people. They are in trouble too. Their customers are in trouble too. Everybody is in debt and nobody wants to spend. It is a deflationary crash. http://www.kondratieffwavecycle.com/unemployment/

December 01 2010 at 12:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

Now let's reign in government workers pay to no more than the private sectors pay is.

December 01 2010 at 12:41 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

Maybe we can finally find some people willing to work at a reasonable wage.

December 01 2010 at 12:40 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply