CHN: More Than One Million Unemployed Workers Lost Help Because Of Failure To Extend Federal Benefits
More than one million unemployed workers are going without unemployment benefits because Congress has failed to extend federal unemployment compensation, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The federal unemployment program, Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC), provides 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state-funded benefits, and are still unemployed. Unemployment insurance is critical to keeping families out of poverty, particularly in times of weak economic activity and slow job recovery.The report finds that since Congress failed to extend the TEUC program in December, more than 1.1 million jobless workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits. According to analyst Isaac Shapiro, the United States has never had so many “exhaustees” – workers who have run out of state benefits – for any comparable period since 1971, when these data were first available. The report also includes state-by-state numbers of unemployed who have exhausted their regular state benefits.
The number of workers exhausting their benefits will grow by 80,000 per week if the President and Congress continue to fail to extend the program. Votes in Congress earlier this year reveal a majority in both the House and Senate support extended federal unemployment benefits. In the House, 227 members, including 39 Republicans, voted for an amendment to the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Reauthorization bill (HR 3030) that creates a new program for temporary extended unemployment benefits. (The amendment does not restore the expired TEUC program — which would have been ruled out of order — but creates a new program. Although it is unlikely Congress would create a new program, the vote demonstrated a bipartisan support for federal unemployment benefits.) In the Senate, 58 Senators, including 12 Republicans, voted for an amendment that would restore TEUC for six months (S 2006). It is likely that supporters in the Senate will continue to attach amendments to restore the program to legislation that is moving, including the TANF bill (see TANF article in the March 26 edition of the HNR).