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February 21, 2014 at 6:03 AM
Tell us how unemployment benefits affect you
The Seattle Times’ Monday editorial calling on Congress to extend unemployment benefits has received some heavy online traffic. Obviously, this issue hits a nerve for many of you out there who are searching for work or know someone who is. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:
In Washington state, at least 28,000 job-seekers so far have lost a critical financial lifeline. Many have put this money immediately into their local economies. It’s how they have afforded basic necessities such as rent, gas, groceries and utilities…
Without an extension, thousands more throughout Washington will continue to lose emergency federal assistance each week after their regular state benefits run out at 26 weeks.
Workers looking for jobs beyond that period now make up nearly 30 percent of the state’s unemployed population. There is an average of three applicants for every job opening.
There’s good reason for lawmakers to return from recess and re-start this debate. According to a January Quinnipiac University poll, 58 percent of respondents support continuing this financial lifeline for those who’ve exhausted their state benefits.
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On Wednesday, Politico reported on new efforts by some Senate Republicans to get more members of their caucus on board with extending jobless benefits. One of the ideas being floated would prevent recipients from double-dipping into disability and unemployment funds. Another is to cut off aid after applicants get a job offer. Democrats should listen and negotiate a compromise.
Here in Washington, I’d like to know why you care about this issue. Some readers have already weighed in. (Check out this letter to the editor.) Are you unemployed and struggling to find work after 26 weeks? How does this federal aid help your household or your local community? How long do you think benefits should be available? How should Congress pay for it?
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