Nearly seven million Americans, sustained by government unemployment (extension) checks, are hanging on by a thread, stated a recent National Employment Law Project (NELP) paper.

For these people, their unemployment benefits are set to expire in 2012 unless Congress passes an extension. If the extension fails to pass, nearly two million will lose their benefits in January 2012 alone, according to NELP.

In January 2012, the organization estimates that 433,100 people will see their regular state benefits end and not be permitted to move into EUC, 709,000 people will finish their current tier of EUC and 647,000 people will see their EB ends.

Standard unemployment benefits (up to 26 weeks) --> Emergency Unemployment Compensation (up to 4 tiers, 1st tier up to 20 weeks, 2nd tier up to 14 weeks, 3rd tier up to 13 weeks, 4th tier up to 6 weeks) --> Extended Benefits (up to 20 weeks)

Over the remainder of 2012, about four million additional people would lose their benefits.

The average unemployment benefits check is only $296 per week. This is only 50 percent of money needed to cover the basic necessities of food, housing and transportation in the U.S., according to the annual Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Put simply, today's unemployed workers are not living the highlife on jobless benefits, stated the NELP.

Moreover, new evidence from the states also puts to rest the exaggerated claims of some detractors that the modest unemployment benefits have motivated unemployed workers to avoid seeking work.

Indeed, ample anecdotal evidence and the persistently high number of long-term unemployed people (currently at 5.7 million) suggest that the poor jobs market (not extended unemployment benefits) is why millions of people are unemployed.

On the grounds of compassion and supporting the economy, NELP and many groups strongly urge Congress to extend the unemployment benefits for 2012.