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Doyle Supports Extending Emergency Unemployment Benefits
Pittsburgh, PA – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) expressed his support for extending federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for Americans who have been out of work a long time, and he hailed the Senate vote on the issue today as an important first step towards achieving that goal.
The authorization for federal EUC benefits expired on December 28th, ending much-needed federal assistance for 1.3 million Americans (including 73,000 Pennsylvanians, more than 8,000 of whom live in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties). Nearly 2 million other Americans will be hurt by the expiration of the EUC program over the next six months.
“The economy is a lot better than it was several years ago, but unemployment is still too high,” Congressman Doyle said today. “With unemployment at 7 percent, many Americans are still having difficulty finding new jobs – and it’s taking many of them longer than usual through no fault of their own. That’s why I think it’s necessary to extend the federal emergency unemployment benefits at this time. It’s wrong to shut the program down now and deny millions of Americans the help they desperately need.”
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted to begin consideration of a bipartisan three-month extension of unemployment insurance (S. 1845) by a vote of 60 to 37.
“I’m pleased that the Senate has taken up legislation to extend federal emergency unemployment insurance,” Congressman Doyle added. “I will be working to pass similar legislation in the House. Extending emergency unemployment insurance for the uninsured isn’t just the compassionate thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do, because those benefits get pumped right back into the economy and increase economic demand. The expiration of EUC benefits over the last week alone has hurt the economy by $400 million.”
The state and federal governments share responsibility for financing unemployment insurance, and the states each administer their own programs. The basic Unemployment Compensation (UC) program provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to eligible individuals who have lost their jobs. On average, nationwide, the program provides about $300 a week to recipients. States provide most of the funding for this program, which is permanent and operates in good times and in bad. The UC program is unaffected by the recent expiration of the EUC program.
Unfortunately, over the last 5 years, unemployment has been much higher than usual. During recessions like the one we recently experienced, the federal government has often authorized temporary emergency unemployment programs to provide benefits for up to 47 additional weeks (providing a total of up to 73 weeks of unemployment benefits when added to the permanent UC benefits). The federal government provides 100 percent of the funding for the emergency unemployment insurance program. Congress authorized emergency unemployment benefits in 1958, 1961, 1971, 1974, 1982, 1991, 2002, and most recently in 2008. The 2008 EUC insurance program, which was authorized in 2008 and signed into law by President George W. Bush, has been extended several times over the last 5 years and is the program for which the authorization expired last month.
The economy has turned around and made real progress since its near-collapse in 2008, but there are still 1 million fewer jobs than there were before the recession – and more than 4 million Americans have been out of work for six months or longer.
The federal emergency unemployment insurance program has been pumping more than $2 billion a month into the nation’s economy, including roughly $100 million in Pennsylvania. Consequently, failure to extend federal unemployment insurance will hurt job growth throughout the nation, costing the economy 240,000 jobs this year, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers.