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Senators unveil plan to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits through 2014

This news story was published on December 1, 2013.
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U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to stabilize the economy and prevent 1.3 million Americans from having their federal jobless benefits cut off, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) recently to introduce the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extension Act of 2013. This bill will provide relief for both states and struggling families by extending federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through 2014. Similar legislation is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by U.S. Representative Sander Levin (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee.

The unemployment insurance system is a partnership between the federal government and state governments that provides a temporary weekly benefit to qualified workers who lose their job and are seeking work. The amount of that benefit is based in part on a worker’s past earnings.

Failure to preserve UI will hurt 1.3 million Americans who will be cut off at the end of the year, and nearly another 1.9 million Americans will be denied access to the emergency program during the first six months of next year. If Congress does not renew the law, then people who file for unemployment next year will only qualify for state benefits, which last a maximum of 26 weeks. In Iowa, 4,300 jobseekers will be cut off from unemployment insurance at the end of this year and another 18,200 will exhaust their state benefits between January and June with no other program to turn to.

“For millions of families, unemployment benefits are a crucial lifeline that allows them to pay bills and put food on the table while they look for new work,” Harkin said. “Our economy is still continuing to recover, with 4 million Americans out of work and looking for a new job for at least 6 months. This aid not only helps these families, but it also helps the businesses and communities where those families live and shop. It is absolutely essential that we extend federal unemployment insurance before it expires next month. I join my colleagues in the House and Senate in calling for an extension of this aid so that we can continue to strengthen our economy and the middle class.”

“Preserving unemployment insurance will help jobseekers, businesses, and states and provide a major economic boost to the national economy as well,” Reed said, who noted that preserving UI would help prevent 13,800 Rhode Island families from losing their benefits next year. “Maintaining UI is part of a broad range of pro-growth and pro-jobs policies that Congress should be enacting. We need to bridge the partisan divide and do what is best for American families and our economy: bolster consumer demand, provide some economic certainty, and preserve UI.”

“Both parties have extended emergency unemployment insurance in times of high unemployment and we need to continue that now,” Stabenow said. “The economy is getting better, but unemployment is still too high and there are still three people looking for work for every one job opening. Congress needs to focus on helping businesses create jobs, not pull the rug out from families unemployed through no fault of their own.”

Although the economy has been expanding for over four years, unemployment remains unacceptably high. A new report by the National Employment Law Project shows long-term unemployment remains higher than during any other downturn since the Great Depression, with 4.1 million job-seekers, or 36.1 percent of all the unemployed, remaining out of work for six months or more.

And the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the failure to renew UI could cost our economy 310,000 jobs in 2014.

Over the years, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that extending UI is among the most cost-effective programs for reducing unemployment and stimulating the economy.

Today, the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported: “The premature turn towards budget austerity since 2010 has been a drag on economic growth and job creation. Extending EUC would help offset that drag as well as reduce hardship among jobless workers and their families. In contrast, letting EUC expire would increase hardship and cost the economy jobs.”

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8 Responses to Senators unveil plan to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits through 2014

  1. Concerned Reply Report comment

    December 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Please keep our benefits…do we need more poverty?

  2. Herb Reply Report comment

    December 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Unemployment extensions need to be passed into 2014, unfortunately the rich Republican’s don’t care about the people who are hurting and the still fragile economy!!! Pass the extension, you’ve already done enough harm

  3. Deb Reply Report comment

    December 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Please don’t end unemployment. I have applied so much and not one interview. I’m 54 almost 55 years old and no one wants me. HELP

  4. Mary G. Cary Reply Report comment

    December 4, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Please, I beg of you, do not end the unemployment benefits the end of December of this year, 2013.
    Those of us who have been unemployed for some time,..myself since June, relay on this money to pay our basic living expenses. If you choose to cancel this program,..you will put more of us in dire straits,..no homes,,no food,..
    no basic living expenses…
    I do not want to live in a box somewhere because I lose my job at 53 years of age. You might as well kill us all, because that would be more humane.
    Please, please don’t make me suffer and die.

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      December 4, 2013 at 10:33 am

      @MaryG.-I know how you feel and really hope they will not end this program. They did it to me once and it was a terrible thing to go though. They just do not understand how important it is or they just do not care. It is very difficult to find a job when you are over 50 years old. With all the waste in the government it seems like they could come up with the money.

      • Annie Reply Report comment

        December 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        That is one reason Obama should not have been allowed to throw one hundred million $ away on that trip to Kenya. For his family and all to see the old sites. We sure could have used that money for US!!

        • DR Dunn Reply Report comment

          December 5, 2013 at 6:00 am

          get real. One has nothing to do with the other.

        • maybe Reply Report comment

          December 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm

          I wonder how much he is spending this month, on his way to south africa then hawaii for christmas vacation.