Tell Congress: Extend Long-Term Unemployment Benefits


January 9, 2014

The U.S. Senate narrowly voted to extend unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed Jan. 6. These expired at the end of last year for 1.3 million workers who have been unemployed for 26 weeks or longer.

The limit on unemployment benefits was first extended in 2008 by then-President George Bush in response to the massive economic crash. It has been renewed on a bipartisan basis for years – that is until now.

The majority of Republican legislators and right-wing special interest groups have come out against the benefits, despite continuing record high long-term unemployment. 

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul even said it was a “disservice” to extend unemployment benefits to the jobless, saying it prevents them from finding work.

The situation facing the long-term unemployed is exceptionally difficult. Those out-of-work for 27 weeks or more have only a 12 percent chance of finding a new job. And with the national unemployment rate still hovering at 7 percent, jobs are still scarce.

As reported by the Economic Policy Institute, the share of the workforce that is long-term unemployed is nearly twice as high today as it was in any other period when Congress allowed an extended benefits program to expire.

“Allowing extensions to expire when the labor market is still so weak is unprecedented in the context of previous unemployment insurance extensions in downturns prior to the Great Recession,” writes EPI economist Heidi Shierholz.

“Even with sharp state and federal budget cutbacks, unemployment insurance kept 1.7 million people from falling into poverty in 2012,” said International President Edwin D. Hill. “Pulling out the rug from under more than a million jobless Americans and their families while unemployment is still running rampant is a big step backward for the economy.”

The decision now lies with the House of Representatives.

Call your representative today and ask him or her to renew the emergency UI benefits: 877-318-0483.