The Jobless Can’t Reach to State Call Centers

People who have a problem with unemployment benefits get endless busy signal.

The state’s call center for PA unemployment benefits in downtown Allentown is not set up to assist the unemployed, but most days some will turn up anxious for answers after receiving a non-stop busy signal when they try calling.

An employee of the call center memorized one woman who claimed she had pressed  redial 137 times before she even got the automatic answering service that inform you how long your wait will be. That wait for her was 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The call center employee said, “It’s bad, it is really bad”. Allentown’s call center on Hamilton Street is one of seven in Pennsylvania. The state stopped an eighth call center in Philadelphia in August and jobless 78 workers in response to a loss of federal unemployment benefits.

Presently, the state has 520 employees to receive calls and handle calls for the 525,000 laid-offs as per Sara Gourlet, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor & Industry. Of those unemployed 275,000 are collecting benefits.

Gourlet started inspecting into this after a neighbor told her he had been trying for days to reach someone in an unemployment office who could tell him how to resolve a problem with his claim.

He strived hard to fix the problem online at the Labor department website but there’s no selection available for his specific issue. “I tried calling 30 or 40 times,” he said. “You can never get through.”

After hearing number of similar stories, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia had a paralegal do an 11-day experiment to observe how long it would take her every day to expend on the toll-free-number.

For instance, on Aug 28, 2012, the paralegal got 37 consecutive busy signals and stopped trying after two hours. On Sept.5, she got 78 repeated busy signals after four hours. The least amount of time it took her over 11 days to get in touch with a live person was 29 minutes.

According to Sharon Dietrich, managing partner of Community Legal Services, the logjam has left many of her agency’s clients in terrible crisis. “It’s true all over the state,” she said. “A lot of my clients are using cell phones and they have limits on their cell phone minutes. We have some people who come to our office just to use a phone to call.”

Dietrich said she recognizes that the state is attempting to do more with less. But layoffs at call centers and cuts in the hours the jobless can get help –now a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday – restricting people who are seeking work.

She said, “I don’t think you can run a system where people can’t access the system.”

In brief, there aren’t sufficient people employed in trying to help the laid offs find the way to unemployment system.

According to Gourlet, the curbs have come in response to a $30 million drop in funds the state obtains from the U.S. government to manage unemployment compensation. As the state unemployment rate has dipped, together with the number of people filing for PA Unemployment benefits, so has the federal money for administration.

Gourlet recommended that the unemployed can call from the CareerLink Union Boulvard, which has a phone line with better chances of getting through to staff at the call centers.

The call center employee has also told Gourlet that the staffs are under guidelines to stay on the line when a call comes from a CarrerLink so the phone can be passed from one jobless person to another to another.

Gourlet, who said the state plans to include more temporary call center workers, said callers sometimes have shorter waits calling later in the day and later in the week. Other unemployed people have had some success calling their legislator to mediate.

Keep in mind; the Legislature previous year passed a law that in order to collect benefits, the laid offs must now be able to prove they have applied for three jobs per week as well as signed up for employment search services with the Pennsylvania CareerLink.

So how can we anticipate people to do a full-time job search if they have to use up business hours redialing when they have a question about their checks?

Pennsylvania Unemployment Hotline Frustrates the Unemployed

A crowd of people in winter coats walked in a circle in front of the Pa. Career Link office on Spring Garden Street, calling the unemployment compensation hotline on their cell phones.

There’s a main problem with a state hotline as jobless residents can’t call to file claims for benefits and resolve issues. The line is always busy and has been for weeks.

The jammed-up phone system is not an outcome of increasing claims. To the contrary, unemployment claims have dropped in 2012 as the job market is improving slowly. Goulet, a spokeswoman with the Department of Labor and Industry said, “We’re working on it, “We’re trying to find ways to get people the help they need.”

Busy signals frustrate the unemployedMeanwhile, frustrated callers are rushing into Carrerlink of the Lehigh Valley which has two phones connected directly to the unemployment compensation call centers. Those two phones can put up about 8 people per hour, so the line begins early in the morning and keeps growing until the agency has to turn people away.

The callers have been getting larger. Nearly 50,000 residents filed unemployment claims in Northampton and Lehigh Counties in August this year, down 8.6% from the same month in 2011. Statewide, the number of claims in August was near to 900,000, down 12.2 percent from 2011.

Protesters offended over busy signals at the State’s Department of Labor have taken into the protest lines in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Unemployment Project says when callers to the state’s jobless benefits hotline don’t get a busy signal. They get a 3 hour wait.

David Wengert, a social worker who read off the number to the crowd, was laid off in June. He got the busy tone when he attempted to detect what had happened to three missed checks.

“People receiving unemployment like myself, it’s stressful. And it’s already stressful enough that you don’t have a job and you’re looking for work,” he said. He clarified that he finally when to a job placement office, where employees called the Department of Labor through their own back channels to explain this problem.

People call state hotline to file claims and can't get throughThe state of Pennsylvania has brought back 117 of 135 call center workers and put on unpaid leave. According to Goulet, the claimants must consider the hotlines the emergency room of the unemployment system.

“When you are first sick, you would normally try some self-help — aspirin, rest. Much like going online to to look for answers and/or reading thoroughly all information sent to you by the [unemployment compensation] office,” she said. “If you are sick and continue to not feel well, then you would go to the ER. … And, by claimants who could self-help using the phones, lines are clogged for those who truly need to speak to someone.”

Federal Assistance Set to Run Out

The Philadephia contingent was also on the street to complain about the pending termination of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which pays for a longer period of unemployment benefits.

Carmelo Del Valle validated an extension by the fact that he paid into the program all through 25 years as a forklift operator. He has been seeking work for over a year and hopes an extension could carry him into the spring, “because that’s when most of the work comes back up.”

“I just need a little extra help for now,” he said.

Unemployment Claims In Pennsylvania and Ohio Spike due to Sandy

job lossesThe media will either overlook, or just not report on the spike in the first time unemployment, which is at its maximum in 18 months. While some first time filers were in New Jersey, and influenced by Hurricane Sandy, that number was offset by the DECREASE in first time filings in New York. Instead, two big battleground states that voted for Obama in the past election saw the maximum number of PA unemployment filings, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These states voted for Obama and are therefore enjoying the consequences. These states had little impact from Hurricane Sandy. The reason for the spike in filings was because of thousands of layoffs in the manufacturing, construction, and automobile industries.

Initial claims, which totaled 361,000 in the former week, climbed by 78,000 to 439,000, the highest reading since April, 2011.

“After a storm, the data is distorted to some extent, depending on the magnitude and geography of the disaster,” said Nathaniel Karp, chief economist for BBVA Compass. “Given what happened with Sandy,” he predicted, “we will see higher volatility in many indicators for a couple of months until everything begins to normalize.”

The four week moving average of initial claims, a measure that many economists support because it smoothes out short-term fluctuations, increased 17,750 to 383,750 from the former week’s revised average of 372,000. That’s a little worse reading than the year-ago moving average, which was 393,750.

The report indicated that the financial system is still growing below trend and trying to pick up some of lost momentum. While the government lately reported that 171,000 jobs were created last month, Karp said, such positive developments must take place at a quicker pace to make a difference.

“It can be somewhat frustrating, as we would like to see a stronger recovery, but at least we are moving forward,” said Karp.

The count of people continuing to obtain jobless benefits ascended in the week ended November 3 to 3.3 million, the maximum level since July of 2008, and 171,000 more than the previous week.

Sandy’s damage has not yet been fully reflected in the jobs data, the Labor Department said: Power outages from the storm have detained processing of

Sandy’s damage hasn’t yet been fully reflected in the jobs data, the Labor Department said: Power outages from the storm have delayed processing of first and emergency claims in hard-hit areas.

The states with the maximum unemployment filings were Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and Michigan. Ohio and Pennsylvania processed more claims than states hit by Sandy, due to construction layoffs.

“The construction industry is still under a severe recession,” said Tom Owens, director of communications at America’s Building Trade Unions.

“With government projects finishing up and the winter season coming on, we usually have a spike in unemployment,” said Owens.

In the unadjusted data, the labor department reported 4.9 million claims for the week ended October 27, a 2% decrease from the prior week. The total number is also a 26% decrease from those claiming unemployment in the week of 2011.

The report, along with the government’s fiscal-deficit situation, may increase pressure on policy makers to produce a sustainable U.S fiscal plan.

To calculate your benefits click on PA Unemployment Calculator.

Crawford County’s Jobless rate Unaltered

Crawford County’s jobless rate was unaffected in August – holding at 7.8% while the rates in four adjoining counties of northwest Pennsylvania all climbed up in August, as per figures released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The county’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 7.8% for August is below the 8.1% seasonally adjusted unemployment rate recorded in August 2011.

In between July and August, Crawford County saw the number of jobs in the service sector rise by 200 from 23,100 to 23,300. Gains of 100 were reported in both business and professional services sector from 2,100 to 2,200; and the local government sector from 2,600 to 2,700.

On the other hand, the number of manufacturing jobs in the country fell by 100 to 6,900 from the 7,000 mark in July. It’s the first time the number had changed since March.

Crawford County has a higher reliance on manufacturing than other areas of the country. About 17 percent of all jobs in the country are associated with manufacturing, while only about 11 percent are national and 12 percent statewide.

Most of the local manufacturing jobs are with local firms supplying tools, tooling and machinery industry, equipment and other parts to prominent manufacturers.

Crawford County’s overall seasonally adjusted labor force for August minimized by 300 to 43,600, with 40,200 employed and 3,400 jobless, as per the state. According to the most recent statistics, in July, the total seasonally adjusted labor force was 43,900 with 40,500 employed and 3,400 unemployed.

According to the state, Crawford County’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 7.8% was lower than 8.1% rate for both Pennsylvania and the nation in August.

Crawford County also saw a development in February, falling from 7.4 percent to 7.0 percent, as per the monthly jobs report from the state Department of Labor & Industry.

The good news wasn’t isolated to northwestern Pennsylvania.

According to Christopher Magaro, a state labor analyst, the jobless rate fell in 56 Pennsylvania counties, held steady in five counties and rose in six counties.

Unemployment numbers in the four countries in Northwest Pennsylvania went higher in August.

The rates for the other counties, listed August, then July, were: Mercer, 8.9, 8.4; Erie, 7.6, 7.4; Warren, 7.4, 7.0; and Venango, 8.1, 7.7.

Some of the surrounding counties unemployment rates were:

  • Lawrence County, 8.3 percent
  • Butler County, 6.7 percent

About Crawford County: Crawford County is a county situated in the U.S state of Pennsylvania. It was created on March 12, 1800, from part of Allegheny County and named for Colonel William Crawford. Its county seat is Meadville.

More settle for short-time work

Four years back, Steve Foundation made about $70,000 a year as a newspaper publisher.

Four weeks ago, Fountain brought home a $129 paycheck after putting in a nine-hour work week at his short term job.

Fountain, 49, of Honesdale, said that he has learned so many things from his experience for a new perspective, as he sipped an iced coffee at a fast-food restaurant in Scranton. “You realize there are always people who are worse off.”

Fountain is amongst millions of Americans who hold part-time jobs, but wish for full-time work.  As per the latest U.S. Department of Labor data, In Pennsylvania, 338,400 people—6% of all workers—have part time jobs because of economic conditions.

Mark Price, Ph.D., an economist at the Keystone Research Center, a labor-supported Harrisburg organization that analyzes the state’s economy said that there are many people finding employment that helps pay the bills but they don’t get as many hours as they would like. He said, “It’s a tough labor market — especially for them.”

Though the state’s jobless rate from April to June averaged 7.4%, the underemployment rate was 13.5%, as per the Department of Labor Statistics. The group, known as the U-6 rate, includes the unemployed, together with people doing part-time jobs for economic reasons and marginally attached workers—those not keenly looking for work, but want a job and have wanted employment in the past year.

“People are taking what they can get to get by and it’s a terrible waste of resources,” Price said.

Gus Faucher, Ph.D., an economist at PNC Financial Services Group, a Pittsburgh-based bank holding company says, “These are obviously people that want to work”. According to him under usual conditions, these people would be doing full-time work.

Fountain, a California native and college graduate with experience in journalism, came to the area in 2007 and would work full-time if he could find it. Ever since 2010, Fountain has worked for Manpower, a job-placement firm periodically in temporary positions at warehouse. After his latest recent nine-hour work at a warehouse, he also landed a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant.

From the time when he was fired in July 2009 after 2 ½ years as a publisher of three regional weekly newspapers, Fountain also has worked as a debt collector, a landscaper, a Census Bureau worker, a political campaign press secretary and a public relations freelancer. He wishes to work full-time in human resources or management.

Fountain said. “I’ve been looking. I’m willing to work my way up again. “I’ve had two out-of-state interviews, but nothing came of it.”

Underemployment is harsher in dozens of states than in Pennsylvania. The highest U-6 rate is Nevada’s 22.1%, followed by California, at 20.3 percent, government data show. The nationwide, second-quarter U-6 rate was 14.7%.

On Friday, the U.S department of Labor, announced data showing the jobless rate for September was 7.8%, a 0.3% drop from the previous month. The national U-6 rate remained at 14.7%.

The data reflects stubbornly high unemployment rate and the reluctance of companies to employ more full-time workers because of sputtering demand and economic uncertainty, as per economists.

“Normally, that number is running around 8 or 9 percent,” Faucher said. “The problem is much more severe than we have had in other recessions.”

The harshness hit quickly in Fountain’s household after his 2009 firing. His wife, Jennifer a former stay-at-home mom to the couple’s three children, went to work around the clock as an insurance agent in December 2009.

“We pulled the plug on cable TV two years ago,” Fountain said. “We have had to hit the IRA once or twice, which is difficult.”

But the impact on his family from parental absences—although he and his wife work at different times—troubles Fountain more than the financial challenges.

Fountain says that his eldest daughter is taking a household responsibility which is really a tough thing. He says, “When I get home tonight, they are going to be in bed. In the morning, I’ll see them for about 20 minutes.”

Fountain said he and his wife anticipate grossing about $55,000 this year in combined income. They are current on their mortgage, taxes and utility bills, but just barely. They have also received monetary help from their families.

Fountain said, “We are living a lot more humbly, a lot more frugally and we appreciate what we have.”

The difficulty the Fountains experience is frequent in many families troubled by involuntary part-time work, Faucher said.

“It means weaker income growth, which means weaker growth in consumer spending,” he said. “It kind of feeds on itself.”

National Unemployment Drops Below 8 Percent

State employment figures are not yet obtainable for September, but Pennsylvania jobs have been equal to or below national figures for 70 successive months.

A new jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates that the national unemployment average declined below 8 percent for the first time in 44-months, settling at 7.8 percent.

According to the report, non-farm employment went up by 114,000 jobs. Of those jobs, 10,000 came from public sector. The bureau also settled the July and August jobs numbers by an additional 86,000.

The employment news was welcomed with cautious cheerfulness by an Obama administration that is keen to change the conversation from the President’s widely panned performance at a debate against Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

“While there is more work that remains to be done,” blogged Alan Krueger, chairman of President Obama’s council of economic advisers, “today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

Romney recognized the fall in unemployment at a rally in Abingdon, Va., Yahoo News reports, but stressed out that the recovery is taking too long. He also pointed out the numbers don’t indicate the number of people who have just stopped seeking work.

It’s too quick to make out exactly how Pennsylvania employment matches to the national figures as the state report for September won’t be announced until October 18. On the other hand, as Department of Labor and Industry spokesperson Christopher Manlove indicates, Pennsylvania has stayed equal to or below the national average for the past 70 successive months.

According to Manlove, Pennsylvania has an old and established financial system with different industries. He says, “We don’t rely on just a few sectors to thrive, like Florida and California with housing or Michigan and the auto industry.”

One more cause for Pennsylvania’s slightly stronger presentation in the job market is the more conventional hiring practices in the state, said Lori Hourigan, a vice president with Robert Half International, a staffing services company with offices in Philadelphia.

The state as a whole tends not to over hire,” said Hourigan. “A lot of other places tend to overstaff when times are good. Pennsylvania was hurt just like everyone else when the recession hit, but there was not as much to cut as those other states.”

In the suburban Philadelphia area, Hourigan said that the job growth has been particularly powerful in the healthcare, finance and technology industries. Center City hospital systems have extended into surrounding communities, such as Einstein Medical Center’s recently opened branch on Germantown Pike in East Norriton. These growths have created more chances for nurses and doctors looking to get of the nursing homes and into a hospital setting, Hourigan said.

In the economic sector, there are not as many college graduates specializing in accounting and finance. At the same time more people are giving up work from that industry, creating a big demand.

With winter advancing, Hourigan expects more gains in seasonal employment as part-time and stay at home workers look to

With winter approaching, Hourigan predicts more gains in seasonal employment as part-time and stay at home workers need to increase their income.

“They want to go back and make some extra money so they can have an enjoyable holiday,” Hourigan said.

Amendment of 2012 Unemployment Compensation Law in Pennsylvania

Some minor changes have been made in 2012 to Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation laws. Let us look into the different aspect of amendment done in UC laws that have bought alteration amongst both employers as well as employees.

Prior to the year 2012 as per the UC laws of Pennsylvania, claimants used to register for work and then they may continue to report to an unemployment bureau in order to be qualified for benefits. But now as per the recent amendment of Section 401 of Act 6 2011, “Qualification Required to Secure Compensation” it requires the claimant to make an active search for suitable job.

Requirements of active search of suitable jobs:

  • As an active claimant post your resume to Pennsylvania CareerLink’s database.
  • Register for jobs, seek out with Pennsylvania CareerLink within 30 days of the initial application for claiming unemployment compensation benefits.
  • Apply for the relevant job with appropriate wages by commuting distance of 45 minutes and considering the prior worked experience.

All these requirements are not applicable for the week where the claimant is undergoing approved training, while participating in re-employment programs or until the date by which an employer would have told the claimant that he/she would be recalled to work.

As a claimant you may also contact Department of Labor and Industry website for additional details over new active search requirement. Since all the cases differ, it is advised to consult with attorney who is knowledgeable in the field of unemployment compensation.

Conflict Over Unemployment Money in Pennsylvania

Nearly 17,000 laid-offs Pennsylvanians will run out of unemployment benefits for the reason that that state House has yet to approve a bill extending them. The legislation was given approval by the state Senate to offer 13 weeks of additional benefits. The federally funded benefits were agreed by Congress last year. It is necessary for the state to tweak its existing laws so that about $30 million can continue to flow through the end of April.

Some House Republicans feel that approval of the bills should be tied for improving the long-term solvency of PA unemployment compensation system which is currently $3 billion in debt to Washington. The bill that makes the tweaks to state law is put for a vote by the House Labor and Industry Committee and the proposal is expected to come before the full chamber. Rep. Ron Miller, R-York, panel’s chairman tells that he wants to send the bill to the floor and to government. According to experts, if changes are not made then the bill needs to go back to the Senate for further action. But it’s certain whether that will occur.

That’s because the state’s present jobless compensation is a mess. According to David Taylor, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, there are lot of structural troubles throughout the system.

Lawmakers approved and Tom Corbett signed a similar extension last summer.  Series of reforms was attached to bill. Moreover, a long sought change requiring benefit recipients to seek for work at the time of receiving unemployment assistance was also attached.

Currently, the business leaders are seeking for language that would limit benefits for residents who willingly quit their jobs. Moreover, they also want the people to use severance packages before they begin receiving public benefits. Taylor said that he is concerned towards jobless residents who for the time being might lose benefits while interest groups and lawmakers work out their differences. As per him, if the conversation is let off, there is no way to get them back and address it again.

In case the bill is changed, it would have to go back to the Senate which is in session only now and then will not return to session until March because of annual budget hearings. Miller says that he wants to get the bill through the Senate and onto Corbett’s desk without any alterations. Meanwhile, the Senate is watching the House and waiting.

Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, the chairman of the Senate Labor says that they are bringing the issue forward and it should be moved on its own. He also said that in case of any problem, unemployed Pennsylvanians could be retroactively paid benefits.

Lawmakers have to pass the legislation until Feb 4, which is expected to be taken up by the Senate. But the Senate and the House are in session only for three days, meaning any concerns will have to be Tom Corbett’s desk before the time limit.

Laid-off Rate Remains Steady in Erie County of Pennsylvania

A tide of good news rode in Pennsylvania, with the laid-off rate dipping in 55 to 67 countries in December. Unluckily, Erie County missed that wave. The seasonally adjusted unemployment in Erie County held stable at 7.8 percent in December, whereas in neighboring Crawford, the jobless rate dropped two tenths of a percentage point to 7.5 percent. An assessment between December 2010 and December 2011 illustrates that the laid-off rate improved by 1.1 percentage points. Actually that places Erie County in a three-way tie along with Reading and Williamsport for most improved among the state’s 14 metropolitan statistical areas. However that step up does not put Erie County at anyplace near the head of the class. Among the state’s metro areas, State College recorded the lowest unemployment rate of just 5.1 percent, while Cameron County has the highest at 11.5 percent. Overall the Pennsylvania unemployment claims rate remains high among neighboring states.

In a total of 3000, the numbers of the laid-offs in Crawford County dropped by 500 people. The County saw much improvement over the past 12 months with the jobless rate dropping from 9.0 percent to 7.5 percent.

Jim  Kurre, professor of economics at Penn State Behrend and director of the Economic Research Institute of Erie said that Erie County’s unemployment rate, which was in the past higher than the national average has presently been lower than the national rate for each of the past 21 months. That’s a good news. Other positive signs involve a reduction in the number of citizens counted as unemployed. The number has declined over the past year from 11,900 to 10,400 in Erie County.

Erie County saw substantial gains in manufacturing employment as it added 300 jobs in April and 1300 over the past year. Figures show that the manufacturing employment has stabilized in Erie and Crawford countries over the past year. In Erie County, manufacturers lost 100 jobs in December but employment is has gone up 500 from a year ago while in Crawford County, manufacturing employment held stagnant at 6800, unchanged from a year earlier. GE Transportation, Erie County’s major employer, accounts for about 1000 of the new jobs added over the past year.

While the number of construction jobs has reduced in Erie County, employment in the hospitality and leisure sector declined less than usual. In total 600 jobs were added in this sector which accounted for 13,100 jobs in April. The number of people functioning in that sector in December was 12,800, down from 13,000 in October. Crawford County added 300 jobs for a total of 2,800.

A broad employment sector that involves mining and lodging added nearly 400 jobs in April for a total of 3,800. According to Jim Kurre, the numbers are not encouraging as if we look at the raw numbers, we observe an addition of 1200 new jobs but that’s only good for those 1200 people.  As per him, this 1,200 is not quite as much of an increase as the sector usually adds almost 1,500 jobs.

Seasonally unemployment rate remains above the long-term unemployment rate of 6.3 percent for Erie County and is 5.9 percent for United States. This fact illustrates that the positive news is balanced.

Like the weather, jobs numbers can change considerably. This is the reason, much of a drop-off have not been seen as in the past because of milder winter.

Failure to Extend Unemployment Benefits will Harm Economy and Jobs

Emergency benefits for the unemployed who have been out of work for at least six months expired on December 1st, leaving millions of laid-offs without a safety net. The time has come to tell the Congress to not leave the unemployed and help them now. Congress must continue these benefits since they pump demand into the economy and help laid-offs and their families. This is a better way to help out the workers pull through the Great Recession.

Unemployment rate mounted to 9.8 percent and Congress is still discussing whether or not to lengthen emergency benefits for the unemployed! The benefits assist to create jobs and improve the economy, but Congress is keen to give expensive and large tax cuts to the wealthy when these tax cuts do not generate jobs and rather increase the deficit by TRILLONS of dollars!

PA unemployment situation is not getting better by any means. Unemployed workers in Philadelphia have begun to bring attention to the dilemma of the laid-offs in their city. Many unemployed workers along with jobs activists and faith leaders attended a vigil to bring attention to the need for Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits. Nearly 83,000 unemployed workers lost their benefits in December without an extension of them, leaving many families without a way to live on during the holiday season.

Many workers in Pennsylvania exhaust regular UI benefits, which they can get for up to 26 weeks through their state unemployment insurance program. The unemployed workers in the city badly need EUC benefits in order to pay their bills and put food on their families’ tables. Without the extended benefits, many laid-off workers will not have money that is needed for them and their families.

Due to prolonged joblessness in the recession, Congress agreed to accept a compromise two-month extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits for laid-off workers! Failing to extend the emergency benefits will not only ruin the 15 million people who don’t have jobs at present, but will also kneecap the ones who are still working, at least for the time being. While the citizens are thankful that extended benefits will continue for millions of Americans who depend on them, the nation is still in a desperate need of JOB CREATION!

Moreover, Congress also used the Recovery Act to give up to 34 additional weeks of benefits for the long-term unemployed in high-unemployment regions. This program is federally funded and is called Emergency Unemployment Compensation. These benefits will also provide vital assistance to laid-off workers and their families while they find a new job.

Opponents of unemployment insurance feel that the benefits are just huge welfare program that permits people to receive income without having to look for a job. Yes, unemployment compensation makes workers less desperate to find a job but it doesn’t alter the number of jobs available.

The UI benefits are not responsible for the increase in the period of unemployment or in the high unemployment rates. So, continuing these benefits would not be odd by any means. Over the past four decades, during every recession, Congress has provided emergency unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed.

Hence, ending long-term emergency benefits means that thousands of laid-off workers are likely to be cut off from their only means of support and thrown into poverty. It won’t create a single job, but at least it will not punish workers and their families for no fault of their own.

Now the economy needs only growth and if Congress fails to extend the benefits, it will pull $65 billion out of the economy and decrease GDP growth by about $130 billion. It has the chance to show the voters it heard loud and clear and can do the correct thing for jobs and the economy.

In short, there is no need for Congress to hesitate on the issue. They must continue the unemployment compensation benefits before they runs out.