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House Republicans Block Unemployment Benefits

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Time is running out for long-term unemployed

The Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday tried to take up a bill under expedited rules to extend federal unemployment benefits which are set to expire on November 30. The vote required a 2/3 majority to pass, but enough Republicans (143) voted against suspending the rules to keep the bill to extend benefits from coming up for a vote.

From the AFL-CIO Blog:

If Congress does not act by Nov. 30, 800,000 people unable to  find work in an economy with five job hunters for every one job will lose this critical help that keeps a roof over their heads and food on the table. By the end of the year, 2 million jobless will be without help and another 1 million a month will lose their benefits beginning next year.

Two new studies reaffirm the critical role Unemployment Insurance has in protecting our economy from the worst effects of the recession.

One study by the Department of Labor found that UI benefits averted larger declines in GDP and kept millions of workers on the job. Since the recession started in 2008, UI benefits reduced the fall in GDP by 18.3% or $315 billion. Furthermore, the DOL found that 1.6 million American workers each quarter since 2008 kept their jobs because of the household income UI provided to jobless workers. Best of all, every dollar spent on unemployment benefits resulted in a two dollar increase in economic activity.

A second study by the Congressional Budget Office backs up the findings at DOL:

"the extensions of unemployment insurance benefits in the past few years increased both employment and participation in the labor force over what they would otherwise have been in 2009.”

There are 6.2 million workers who have been jobless six-months or more. There are five jobless workers for every job opening. There haven't been as many jobless workers for as long since the Great Depression. Never before has Congress failed to extend benefits when the unemployment rate is so high.

Click here to sign the petition to Congress to extend unemployment insurance before time runs out.