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.