___________________  In January 2008, the unemployment rate in the United States was around five percent. But by the end of the year it had increased to 7.3 percent. Just one year later, it had increased again to almost 10 percent.  The country had quickly entered its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Experts say the economy is now in full recovery. The unemployment rate is down to about seven percent. Still, millions of Americans are out of work, like Kathy Biscotti. “I’m 51 years old, born, bred, raised in Baltimore. My father was a plumber, my mother was a nurse. I’ve worked my whole life for everything I’ve ever had.” Ms. Biscotti lost her job as an office assistant six months ago. She received her last unemployment check on December 31st. “I received on Tuesday 332 dollars and now I have to decide what to do. If I give it to my landlord, then I have no money at all.” Kathy Boscotti is one of 1.3 million Americans struggling with the same problem. Congress did not agree to continue payments to unemployed people after December 28th. Conservative lawmakers said an extension would make people less likely to work. Rand Paul is a Republican senator from the state of Kentucky. He was among those opposed to an extension. He spoke about the issue on an American television program. “If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers.” But supporters of the unemployed say that is not true. Christine Owens is executive director of the National Employment Law Project. She says most of the four million Americans receiving unemployment payments want to work. “These are not folks who are just sort of sitting around on their couch watching TV and eating Christmas candy. These are people who have made a full time job out of trying to find another job.” For Kathy Biscotti, that means applying for 10 to 20 jobs a week. “I applied for a job yesterday. There were 865 applications went in for that one job.” Ms. Biscotti fears she will become homeless and unable to buy food or pay for transportation without unemployment payments. Many Americans make promises, or resolutions, at the beginning of the new year. Her New Year’s resolution is to find work. “I hope that things turn around in 2014 and I find a job. But I’m pretty much hopeless, in despair, discouraged, ashamed.” Lawmakers have extended unemployment payments legislation 11 times. President Obama says Congress must do so again. “I think we’re a better country than that. We don’t abandon each other when times are tough.” This week, the United States Senate has been debating such a proposal. But experts say it could be difficult to pass. Support for extended unemployment benefits has weakened as the economy has improved. But even with recent employment gains, the number of Americans without jobs for more than 27 months is the highest it has ever been. These people represent about 40 percent of the total unemployed in America.    _____________________