White House says 240,000 jobs lost in 2014 without jobless benefits extension

A woman shields her face from the sun while waiting in line to fill out an application for one of the 300 available positions at a new Target retail store in San Francisco, California August 9, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House piled pressure on Republicans on Thursday to extend U.S. jobless benefits with a report that estimated a failure to take action could lead to a loss of 240,000 jobs in 2014. About 1.3 million Americans stand to lose jobless benefits on January 1 unless Congress agrees on an extension, and President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats are trying to overcome opposition from Republican lawmakers to extend the benefits as part of a budget deal. A joint report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Labor Department estimated that without an extension of the benefits, GDP could be .2 percent to .4 percent lower. Failing to extend jobless benefits, the report said, would reduce economic demand and cost 240,000 jobs next year. The current jobless rate is 7.3 percent. "Since 1948 Congress has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire with unemployment rates as high as they are now," the report said. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Vicki Allen)