Unemployment benefits will run out for many on Monday

Although the March jobs report was encouraging, the unemployment rate and the number of long-term unemployed are still at historically high levels. Unfortunately, unemployment benefits for about 200,000 Americans will run out on April 5 because Congress adjourned for its Easter recess before resolving an dispute over extending those and other benefits. The Hill reports:

The interruption in benefits will last two weeks at a minimum, according to Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), since lawmakers return from spring break on April 12.

As the two-week recess began, Congress was at an impasse over how to extend the emergency unemployment insurance program and other expiring provisions, including increased COBRA health insurance subsidies for the unemployed, the Medicare doctor payment rate and federal flood insurance.

Senate Republicans said the $9.3 billion, 30-day extension preferred by Democrats should be paid for, while Democrats said the bill's cost didn't need to be offset because the program was "emergency spending."

Under the jobless benefits program that ends Monday, Americans out of work are eligible for up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. The program, aimed at helping jobless Americans stay afloat when new jobs aren't readily available, gives an unemployed worker more than the 26 weeks of unemployment insurance normally available. But with the program ending, those out of work for as few as six months will see an interruption in their benefit checks.

I love how Republicans who approved every blank check for war in Iraq and tax cut for the top 1 percent always demand that unemployment benefits be "paid for." I don't expect them to hold up action on unemployment benefits forever, but even if Democrats are able to apply extensions retroactively later this month, a lot of families will experience real hardship in the meantime. I hope Democrats succeed in passing a bill that would extend the benefits until the end of the year, so these battles won't recur every month.

Tags: jobs, unemployment, unemployment benefits, Congress, Senate, Economy, Tax Credits (all tags)

Comments

5 Comments

It will be passed . . .

And quickly, once the Senate resumes.

However, I think this was a mistake on Reid's part. People don't like that the Senate went on vacation, leaving 200,000 unemployed folks in the lurch until they come back. As someone who was unemployed for almost a year, it's terrifying when those benefits run out. You've already been pinching every penny (as unemployment benefits are typically around 50% of what you were making before). The bills won't wait, the power company won't take an IOU, and the uncertainty is maddening.

Republicans are to blame for blocking the extension, but Reid had a move. It would've been incredibly strong and meaningful had Reid refused to adjourn the Senate until this passed. Senators don't like to give up their vacation time, and getting the dems to unify behind Reid and stay in session until passage would've sent a great message to the country.

by EvilAsh 2010-04-03 04:53PM | 0 recs
Unemployment insurance reform too.

I think in a sense, the GOP is right on this one, partly. Obama promised to alter the unemployment system so it gives people more of an incentive to seek employment.  Either by changing the tax that employers pay or by extending it to people who work full time.  The true employment numbers that one needs to look at is the underemployment, the people who are working part time, which cannot make ends meet and people would be apt to help the unemployed.

by olawakandi 2010-04-04 08:05AM | 0 recs
RE: Unemployment insurance reform too.

With unemployment around 10% it's more a case of a lack of jobs rather than a lack of incentive. The time to start pulling the rug out of the unemployment safety net is when one starts to reach full employment < 5%. Not now.

by vecky 2010-04-04 05:33PM | 0 recs
RE: Unemployment insurance reform too.

I really don't buy that 10% of the nation isn't interested in working. It's the standard Republican talking point that people who are down on their luck are lazy, or that they just need to try harder.

The current unemployment system has a perverse set of incentives. If you are unemployed, you are prohibited from taking classes or getting training. If you enroll in college courses, you lose your benefits. If you try to get training or certification (I'm in IT and desperately wanted to get my CCNA certification) you lose your benefits. The ultimate result is that you are legally prohibitted from bettering yourself while unemployed.

The logic of this stance is that you should be looking for a job, not living off of unemployment while you take classes or get training. However, if there ARE no jobs, if you NEED training to make yourself employable, then you're screwed. You get to sit around, applying for job after job that you won't get because you're missing a certification, knowing that if you took a four week course you may actually get one of those jobs, but unable to take the risk that you'll lose your unemployment check. The year I was on unemployment could've been reduced to eight weeks or less, had I been permitted to get the training I needed without losing benefits.

And in this country, at what point did we decide that getting additional education was a BAD use of time for the unemployed?

by EvilAsh 2010-04-05 12:38AM | 0 recs
Unemployment insurance reform too.

I think in a sense, the GOP is right on this one, partly. Obama promised to alter the unemployment system so it gives people more of an incentive to seek employment.  Either by changing the tax that employers pay or by extending it to people who work full time.  The true employment numbers that one needs to look at is the underemployment, the people who are working part time, which cannot make ends meet and people would be apt to help the unemployed.

by olawakandi 2010-04-04 08:05AM | 0 recs

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