Unemployment applications lowest since April 2008

About 6.7 million people are receiving unemployment benefits. About 2.2 million of them will lose their benefits by mid-February, and 3.6 million others will lose theirs by the end of March if Congress doesn’t extend the emergency benefits.

Lawmakers are deadlocked over continuing the program, which is attached to legislation that would extend a Social Security tax cut.

House Republicans rejected a two-month extension passed by a bipartisan majority in the Senate. President Barack has called on lawmakers to approve the short-term measure so that they will have time to negotiate a full-year extension.

If Congress doesn’t renew the two measures for 2012, economists say, the economy’s growth could slow by as much as 1 percentage point.

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