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March 4, 2014 at 6:11 AM
Opinion Northwest recently asked for readers’ thoughts on Congress’ failure so far to extend federal unemployment insurance. The Feb. 21 blog post followed this editorial calling on lawmakers to help struggling but active job-seekers.
Within days, the post received more than 300 responses from across the country — the map at the top of this post shows locations of responses we received. Many people explained how the temporary assistance had helped them to keep their families housed and their Internet connections available so that they could post their resumes online. A few disagreed with the extension, saying it discourages the long-term unemployed from trying harder to find work. Older workers offered heart-wrenching stories about the difficulty of getting an interview and holding on to a position in today’s economy. During the process of verifying a few different writers’ identities, a few phone numbers were disconnected.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate is plotting again to pass an extension measure with the help of some Republicans. The Congressional Budget Office outlined the benefits of a short-term fix in this Dec. 3 analysis. “Recipients of the additional benefits would increase their spending on consumer goods and services. That increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would, particularly given the expected slack in the capital and labor markets,” the report concludes.
Here in Washington state, the Employment Security Department reports about 28,000 people exhausted their federal benefits on Dec. 28 after Congress failed to act. Since then, the agency estimates thousands more drop out of the system every week.
What happens to them now?
Scroll down to read some of their stories.
Support a federal extension of unemployment insurance:
I support the extension due to the fact that I lost my job of 29 years in June. My benefits ran out in January. No one will hire me due to my age. I’m 64 years old. Having 26 weeks is not long enough to find a job at my age. It is devastating to our budget with first the loss of a long-term job, and then no unemployment to help with expenses. My job loss was due to my position being eliminated. I would have loved to continue working until I was old enough to retire, but my employer had other plans. We have now had to put our home up for sale, we sold our second vehicle and have cut out anything possible to cut back. I’ve gone from a job that paid over $3,000 a month, to unemployment at less than half of that amount, and now down to zero for my income — it is hard to live on just my husband’s Social Security. I need to work, and have worked since I was a teenager. I need the extra weeks of unemployment to carry me until I can find a job. It is not right to not extend the benefits to those of us who are struggling to find a job. Something needs to be done to help all us who are out of work.
— Sharon Washburn, Yakima (more…)
January 9, 2014 at 6:09 AM
The U.S. Senate returned to work this week and shocked some by advancing a temporary extension of the same jobless benefits it allowed to expire on Dec. 28. But as various news outlets such as Politico and The New York Times report, the measure is nowhere close to passage and could face an even tougher battle in the more conservative House.
Americans should pressure their federal elected officials to set aside ideology and pass the bill. Be heartened by the fact that six Republicans helped Democrats break a filibuster to move the issue closer to a vote. One of the legislation’s sponsors is U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., which indicates this doesn’t have to be a partisan issue. It’s about helping the long-term unemployed — in blue, red and purple states — rebound and contribute to their local economies.
National and state jobs reports have certainly shown some improvement since the most recent recession officially began in December 2007, but as the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart below shows, the ratio between job openings and job applicants is still about 3 to 1.
If you doubt the need for this boost of support or think it’s just another bad example of welfare, read this report from The Washington Post. Reporter Brad Plumer offers seven compelling reasons why these benefits are necessary for the country to stay on the course toward a full, stable economic recovery. Long-term unemployment, which some define as lasting 27 weeks or more, is not a result of workers being unproductive. It’s a result of one of the worst recessions in modern U.S. history and technological advances that have made some jobs disappear. (more…)