— Posts About Emergency Unemployment Benefits

Congress Extends Unemployment Benefits for Two Months

Shortly before Christmas, House Republicans finally gave in and sensibly agreed to the two-month extension for extended unemployment benefits.  When Congress returns after recess, debate will resume on whether to further continue the vitally needed unemployment insurance programs.  For more information on North Carolina’s Extended and Emergency Unemployment benefits, see the Division of Employment Security’s site, here.

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Republicans Still Blocking Extended Unemployment Benefits

The House and Senate still have not come to an agreement on extending unemployment benefits for jobless workers.  The federal unemployment provisions for emergency and extended benefits are set to expire during the first week in January.  The U.S.  Labor Department estimates that 3.6 million jobless Americans will lose benefits by March if nothing is done to extend the federal program.  Currently the states finance up to 26 weeks of jobless benefits with the federal government adding up to 73 weeks of benefits, totaling 99 weeks of possible unemployment benefits.  The average unemployed workers is out of work for 41 weeks.  Republicans in Congress seek to reduce the maximum total number of weeks to 59, add unreasonable eligibility requirements, and implement pervasive drug-testing of all unemployed workers.  All of these proposals further prevent economic recovery, undermine the spirit of the unemployment system, and essentially tar the unemployed as drug addicts.  Republican obstructionism and inaction has reached a critical point, and without action on these issues the nation will face even greater hardship than the Great Recession has already inflicted.  More coverage here.

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Federal Unemployment Benefits Should be Renewed

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) published an excellent paper in October, arguing for a one-year extension of the Federal Unemployment Insurance benefits for unemployed workers.  The paper is entitled “Hanging On By a Thread: Renew Federal Unemployment Insurance to Aid Families, Boost Stalled Economy

The paper states: “Unless Congress reauthorizes the current federal extension programs before the December 31st deadline, millions of workers and their families will be left without their primary means of support to buy food, pay the rent or mortgage, and cover their other most basic necessities.”

NELP’s paper also argues that extending benefits will help families as well as give the economy a leg up:  “Consistent with the prior research, [Wayne Vroman of the Urban Institute] found that the nation’s economy grew by $2 for every dollar spent on unemployment insurance during the latest recession, as unemployed workers spent their benefits in their communities at grocery stores, gas stations, and other retailers and service providers.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to keep Congress in session in D.C. until federal unemployment benefits are renewed for the coming year, even if they have to work through the holidays to do so.

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