Unemployment benefits expire in Alabama
WASHINGTON (AP) — Holiday cheer may be a little harder to come by in more than a million American households starting today, including an estimated 11,000 Alabamians. The nation's long-term unemployed will be abruptly cut off from federal unemployment benefits after lawmakers left Washington without voting on an extension. Recipients will lose an average monthly stipend of $1,166. Alabama's unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in November, but some counties have double-digit unemployment. They include Wilcox County at 13.9 percent, Bullock County at 11.9 percent, and Perry and Dallas counties at 11.1 percent. While top Senate Democrat Harry Reid says the chamber will vote early next month on extending the benefits, one Ohio woman who lost her job in February says the damage has been done -- saying Congress "shut down my lifeline for my family." House Speaker John Boehner has said he's open to extending the benefits, but only if accompanied by spending cuts elsewhere to cover the cost.