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Democrats vowed to renew the unemployment aid this week to minimize disruption for more than 1 million jobless people who would begin to exhaust their extended benefits on Monday.

“The simple fact of the matter is that this is an emergency situation and should be treated as such,” said Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat. “The most vulnerable families in America are going to suffer because of this political decision by one senator. … We will be back, we will try to get this done. And to those families: Hang in there.”

The massive shift into dependence on the government, while essential in promoting an economic revival last year, has postponed a reckoning for many consumers who went too far into debt to maintain their lifestyles during the boom years, Mr. Bandholz said.

While the government was lavishing aid, banks were cutting credit to consumers by a record $250 billion, nearly as much as the amount consumers gained from government transfer payments.

“This shift only postpones a solution to the problem” by substituting government debt for consumer debt, Mr. Bandholz said. “These elevated debt loads will at least result in sluggish growth rates for the time being — and if the problem is not tackled with determination, it might very well lead to another crisis.”

Some economists say the big shift toward dependence on government spending and borrowing is only temporary.

“Sure, temporary government transfers played a role this past year. But that’s OK,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group. He noted that Americans also accumulated a record amount of savings last year as they stowed away funds out of fear of losing their jobs.

The increase in savings now enables many consumers to increase spending, while the 90 percent of workers who still have jobs can spend more because they are accumulating more income from overtime hours, he said.

“It’s a combination and interaction of all these forces — not just one — that will promote more future spending by households and keep the economy going later without government aid,” he said.

Jobless benefits and other welfare spending for the unemployed will start to decline when job growth returns. Many economists predict that employment will increase this spring or summer in the next stage of the recovery. Because of bleak job prospects during the recession, some people were forced to go more permanently on the government dole.

In particular, many workers who were nearing retirement age and got laid off started drawing Social Security benefits. The number of retirees taking Social Security at age 62 grew by a record 19 percent in the past year, helping to push up Social Security outlays by $100 billion. Analysts expect those spending levels to stay high and continue to increase as more baby boomers retire.