September 22nd, 2009
03:35 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: House takes up bill to extend unemployment

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

More than a million people could receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits under a bill the House is set to take up today.

The measure would extend benefits for those living in states with jobless rates higher than 8.5%. Some 27 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, fall into this category. The national unemployment rate hit 9.7% in August, the highest in 26 years.

The extended benefits would apply to an estimated 314,000 people set to exhaust their benefits by month's end and to more than a million who will stop getting checks by the end of the year.

Fed in Focus

The Federal Reserve begins its two-day policy meeting today.

The central bank is widely expected to keep its key benchmark lending rate unchanged at a target range of zero to 0.25%. And overall, analysts are expecting this to be a fairly uneventful meeting.

In addition to leaving rates where they are, the Fed is not likely to say much about winding down its trillions of dollars in lending and bailout programs. Nevertheless, investors will examine the language of the accompanying statement very closely.

But many Fed-watchers don't expect that statement to be overly enthusiastic - or even say much at all. Ben Bernanke & Co. are likely to be very careful not to disrupt the wave the stock market is riding.

Because the recovery from the recession is so tenuous, most economists think keeping rates steady is the right decision. In addition, inflation isn't currently a worry, and that factors into the Fed's decision as well. Because consumer confidence is so low, concerns about rising prices have been mostly muted.

Massachusetts leads in health care coverage

A new study from the government shows a wide disparity in health care coverage across the United States.

Using data from 2008, the survey from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that at 4.1%, Massachusetts had the lowest level of uninsured people of all 50 states and Washington D.C., while Texas had the highest with 24.1%.

Experts cite a number of factors for the wide range including programs already in place, whether or not illegal immigrants are counted, and wage differences.

Where to find the fattest paychecks

Maryland is the nation's top-earning state for the third year in a row, with a median household income of $70,545 in 2008, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released this week.

The states with highest median incomes are concentrated in the far West and in the Northeast, around the District of Columbia.

Most of the lowest-earning states are in the South. Mississippi had the lowest median income of just $37,790, while West Virginia ($37,989), Arkansas ($38,815), Kentucky ($41,538), and Alabama ($42,538), round out the bottom five.

The four highest earning states after Maryland are New Jersey, which has a median household income of $70,378, Connecticut ($68,595), Alaska ($68,460) and Hawaii ($67,214).

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Unemployment
soundoff (One Response)
  1. michael armstrong sr.

    The government has no other choice but to exstend unemployment because failure to do so will cause people to do things that they normaly wouldnt do . what would a hungry bear do.

    September 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm |