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Tell Congress to renew Extended Unemployment Insurance benefits now!

Commentary by Fight Back! Editors |
November 27, 2011
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On Dec. 31, funding for extended federal Unemployment Insurance will expire. If funding is not renewed, almost 2 million jobless workers will be cut off from their benefits in January and almost 4 million more will lose their benefits by the end of May, 2012 - all at a time where the official unemployment rate is still 9%.

While the recession that began in December of 2007 officially ended in the summer of 2009, unemployment has stayed near 10% and a record number of unemployed have been out of work for long periods of time. Regular state unemployment benefits usually last for six months, and there are almost 6 million unemployed workers that have been out of work longer than that. When these long-term unemployed use up their state unemployment benefits, they can apply for federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation that can last an additional 53 weeks. In states with high unemployment rates, the federal Extended Benefits (EB) are available for another 20 weeks. All together, unemployment insurance benefits can last up 99 weeks.

With the funding for federal xtended Unemployment Insurance benefits expiring on December 31 of 2011, about 650,000 of long-term unemployed who on the federal Extended Benefits program will be cut off immediately. About 700,000 jobless workers receiving federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) will have their benefits expire in January, and the other 2.2 million collecting EUC will lose their benefits over the next four months. In addition, about 400,000 workers will lose their state unemployment benefits each month, as there would be no federal extended benefits to fall back on. A total of more than 5.5 million unemployed would be hit by a loss of benefits in less than six months.

While the average unemployment insurance benefit is less than $300 a week, these benefits managed to keep more than 3 million people above the official poverty line last year (2010) alone. With the official poverty rate is over 15% and still rising, a cutoff of federal extended Unemployment Insurance benefits would just add to the growing number of poor people.

A cut-off of federal extended Unemployment Insurance benefits would also put the economy of greater risk of falling back into a recession. Each dollar spent on unemployment insurance benefits can create about two dollars in total spending. With unemployment still high, housing prices still falling and the economic crisis in Europe going from bad to worse, the country cannot afford to increase the risk of another brutal economic downturn.

In December of 2010, Congress renewed the Bush-era tax cuts, including all the tax cuts for the wealthy, for two years - until the end of 2012. But Congress only renewed extended unemployment insurance and the Social Security payroll tax cut - which both mainly benefit working people - for only one year. Why should millionaires and billionaires continue to get their tax cuts while more unemployed are forced to choose between keeping a roof over their head and putting food on the table?

The editors of Fight Back! are well aware that there are millions of unemployed who will still be left behind even if the extended federal unemployment insurance benefits are renewed. There are millions of people who have been out of work more than 99 weeks - the so-called ‘99ers’ - who have lost their benefits even with the federal extension. There are also millions of young people who are without work and a growing number who have graduated and never found a job and thus cannot collect unemployment insurance. More and more homemakers and retired people are now looking for work, trying to make ends meet and are also not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

What is really needed is a federal jobs program, like the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA), that put millions of people to work in the 1930s. But the need for a real jobs program should not let us sit by while Congress and the 1% that they represent cut unemployment benefits and condemn millions more to poverty.

We call upon all our readers to contact their representatives and senators and demand that they renew the federal extended unemployment benefits now.

Last but not least, while we understand that the Occupy Movement does not want to get bogged down in debates over a long list of demands, we urge the Occupy of all cities to take up a holiday campaign for renewing federal Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits now!

11 comments

 
D. Mays wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

EUC for OHIO

I am also writing to strongly urge the CONGRESS and the GOP to do everything that is possible to extend the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
I have been unemployed for quite some time and have been looking for and continue to look for employment. I realize the unemployment rate has dropped several points in Ohio, but it is still not low enough. I am in real fear of losing my EUC in December and need Congressmen to help us 99ers in this important matter. I am sure I speak for many many people in the same position I am in. Please act now. Stop the damn gridlock and help America and Americans.

 
Anonymous wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Congress must renew federal emergency benefits for 2013!

There are so many of us....Americans laid off from our long-term jobs, through no fault of our own, who really need the federal emergency unemployment benefits. Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, must step up, and "do the right thing"....approve an extension of these benefits for 2013. Does Congress realize that millions will be desperate, and unable to pay their bills? I was employed for 23 years at a company, and last winter, I was laid off. It wasn't what I wanted, or planned, so thank goodness, for unemployment benefits, and the EUC benefits as well! Perhaps you have to "walk in the unemployed shoes" to understand how it feels. I have the utmost respect for President Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, because he cares about the impoverished and unemployed people, and continues with a good heart, to fight for us.

 
Colleen wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Unemployment Ext.

Oh my gosh, I just learned of this today, and probably still would not have a clue if I had not comne across this article. Why not informed us???? How can you do this!! I was employed for 33 years at my job and was laid off. I only have a high school deplomia and I am finding out the experince means nothing anymore. I have applied for over 300 jobs and have only gotten 3 replies stating they were not interested. I am sure alot has to do with my age also. I am almost 55. Now I have not a clue what will happen to me. If this does happen, in 2 weeks I will be out on the streets. Is that what you have in mind? All the middle aged people out of work being homeless. (Great way to save SS) (NOT!!) As with everyone else in my age group, we are all so willing to work, but no one wants us...over qualified or under qualified. What are we to do?? I am so scared. PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS TO US!!
CONGRESS PLEASE EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT!

 
Margie wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

It's about the election

TO THE REPUBLICANS: I THINK YOU AREN'T RENEWING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE THROUGH 2012 BECAUSE YOU WANT TO CREATE THE WORST SITUATION YOU CAN FOR THE ELECTION. IF YOU TAKE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AWAY FROM THE UNEMPLOYED, YOU WILL CREATE A VERY HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR THE ELECTION. YOU ARE CLEVER. NOW i KNOW WHY YOU'RE TAKING 40 WEEKS FROM THE HARDEST HIT STATES. BY JULY, THESE PEOPLE WILL REALY BE IN TROUBLE AND THE CAMPAIGN WILL BE IN FULL SWING. YOU WILL BLAME OBAMA FOR THE VERY HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE THAT YOU CREATED. AND IT WILL ALL BE NUMBERS.

 
Anonymous wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

adding to my previous comment

I have applied to gas stations and all kinds of menial work. I am told I am overqualified. I apply to jobs that I meet or exceed the qualifications and I am told I am underqualified. NO ONE WANTS TO HIRE CHRONICALLY UNEMPLOYED! There should be a large tax credit for hiring the chronically unemployed. There is for the military and that is fine, they deserve it. But don't leave us homeless which is what is going to happen January 1, 2012. I have never been unemployed until 2 years ago. I started working when I was 11. I worked my way through college, grad school and even law school and I can't get a job. I went into teaching and got wrongfully terminated because of two jerks (one of which just got fired). I think I have been blacklisted but can't prove it. I have a valid lawsuit for termination but have no money to pursue it. CONGRESS PLEASE EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT - EVEN FOR A FEW MONTHS!

 
Anonymous wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

unemployment extension

I am a hard core conservative. But I have been unemployed for 23 months and will be homeless January 1. I have applied for thousands of jobs and gone back to school. It is not my fault for being unemployed or getting another job. The economy is the worst since Jimmy Carter. There needs to be an extension or a lot of people will be homeless.

 
Rachel wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

extend benefits

I have been a loyal worker at my job for over 18 years and have never collected unemloyment benefits before. If they cut the extended benefits this will have a cause a great hardship to me and my family. Please sign bill not to stop these benefits as it will cause much defastion throughtout the states. Familys and children will become homeless and this includes myself.

 
53% wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

It isn't the Republicans; it

It isn't the Republicans; it is the Senate. The Republicans have passed 25 jobs bills, that have moved onto the Senate. Harry Reid and the Democrate Senate won't bring those bills to a vote.

 
Margie wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

You've Got to Be Kidding

Republicans, I read Boehner's Bill. Are you kidding me? People on Extended Unemployment will have to submit for drug testing and volunteer 24 hours a week at not for profits? Boehner's reducing the eligible weeks from 99 to 59? He's included the Canadian pipeline because it will "create jobs". He's taking raises away from Government workers and congress (I'm OK with congress not getting raises - they dont' produce anything). He's included enough poison pills to ensure the bill doesn't pass. Who will pay for the drug testing and monitoring the drug testing? Who will pay to monitor the volunteer provision? Shouldn't the unemployed be looking for work instead of spending three days a week "volunteering"? What if the organization doesnt' want all the "volunteers"? Why penalize the Government workers? What did they do wrong? If people spend more money, it will create more demand for goods and services. In turn, corporations will hire more workers to create goods and services. HELLO! Are you too busy drinking the Kool Aid to get it? Last Saturday, I applied for a Service Representative job. Sixty other people applied also. Of the sixty people, 80% had been working 20 years or more. Now, what does that tell you? I'll make it simple. There are many unemployed people who are diligently looking for work. 60 to 1 odds aren't very good for getting a job. The job seekers are older and qualified. Please REALISTICALLY extend the unemployment benefis. It's good for The People and it's good for the economy.

 
Anonymous wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

unemployment

Congress:
I would urge you to extend the unemployment benefits. I am age 50 and have an associates degree even just a few months ago was certified for medical billing and coding. But i cant' find a job in that field. I have even applied at Arby's fast food chain. Because I simply want a job they were hiring but i was over qualified........What the heck.........I just want to work doens't matter where but I can't seem to get a job............ Please i Will lose my home and eveything that I have ever worked so hard for all my life. I am already very depressed and lost alot of self esteem because of not being able to find a job..................I just wish that you people knew what it was like to not be able to pay your bills.... Let alone buy necessities like soap tiolet paper and so on.............Please think about it you have a great life dont' we all deserve something...............

 
Anonymous wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Republican's, Do Your Job - Renew EUC

Dear Republicans, I realize you think that all unemployed people are in that position by choice. Not true. I was let go from my job n February and I cannot find another job, despite sending out 300 resumes, networking, and so on. Part of the problem is age discrimination. I am 59. Part of the problem is that I need training.

Here's an idea - instead of devoting yourselves to being the party of "No" - in other words, whatever the Democrats propose, you say "no", why don't you do the right thing for the American people? You say the Democrats treat us like children. I think you do, too. You think that unless you pinch every one of our pennies (because you are playing with our money afterall), somehow, the United States will die. Have you thought instead, if you invest in us, things will turn out OK?

We need for you to give us back our money and renew the the Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Don't worry about "paying" for it. You know it's an investment.

Gentlemen, for 30 years, I was a devoted Republican. I voted Republican. I contributed to the party. I helped with elections. No more. I will never again pull that lever for the Republican Party. I don't identify with the Republican Party any more. You do not have the people's interest at heart. I will vote for the candidate going forward.