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More Unemployed Americans to Lose Jobless Benefits

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Unemployment checks will soon run out for many people who've been hit the hardest by the recession: the long-term unemployed.

Thousands are expected to lose their jobless benefits this summer, pushing the number who have been cut off this year to nearly half a million.

The federal extension of unemployment checks is a hot issue.  Some states have cut initial benefits to less than 26 weeks, and others have limited eligibility.

Many Republicans say long term benefits discourage the long term unemployed from seeking work, while Democrats argue that many people have faced extreme difficulty finding employment in a weak labor market. 

The irony is that cutting people from benefits lowers the official unemployment rate.  Only those who are officially seeking work are counted by the government. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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