This year, Senate Democrats have had to stand up to repeated efforts by Senate Republicans to prevent the extension of critical unemployment benefits for jobless Americans. In the past several months, Republican filibusters and obstruction have allowed unemployment benefits to expire on three separateoccasions, creating instability for American families struggling to find work. [NELP, 5/24/10]
Under Senate Democratic leadership, we have been able to restore previous expirations of the benefits brought about by Republican obstruction. But these monthly extensions merely provide additional opportunities for Republicans to use partisan politics to harm out-of-work Americans.
This week, the Senate is debating the American Jobs Act which would extend unemployment benefits until December 2010. Senate Democrats are again fighting Republican opposition to extending these benefits to families in need. We are working to ensure that this important long-term extension is passed to provide certainty and stability to families struggling to stay afloat.
Republican obstruction is harming American families and creating uncertainty for those who have lost a job through no fault of their own. Senate Republicans have repeatedly prevented the timely extension of unemployment benefits since the start of the year. [NELP, 6/4/10] This week, 20,000 individuals have already lost their eligibility for additional benefits because of these Republican political tactics. [NELP, 6/4/10] If the extension in the American Jobs Act is not passed, 1.2 million Americans could see their eligibility for benefits expire by the end of June. [NELP, June 2010]
While Senate Democrats have consistently fought for jobless Americans, Senate Republicans have made clear that they would prefer to give tax breaks to big corporations on Wall Street than help ordinary Americans. Out-of-work Americans are left worried and frustrated when Republican partisan tactics interrupt the delivery of unemployment benefits.
Senate Democrats continue to fight for the millions of American families and individuals who depend on unemployment benefits during these tough times.
· Job loss has slowed but unemployment remains high. Although the unemployment rate has recently lowered to 9.7 percent, it remains unacceptably high. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6/4/10] Unfortunately, 15 million Americans are jobless and looking for work. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6/4/10] The uncertainty of the job market and the fluctuating status of unemployment benefits have created a great amount of anxiety for American families. These families depend on unemployment benefits to pay for food and housing, maintain their health insurance, and provide basic services for their children.
· An unprecedented number of Americans have been without a job for more than six months. There are more than five job seekers for every one job available, which has contributed to the astonishing number of Americans unable to find a job. [NELP, 5/24/10] In May, 46 percent of the unemployed had been without a job for 27 weeks or more – the highest percentage on record. This means that 6. 7 million Americans have been unemployed for nearly 6 months or more. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6/4/10] Americans depend on unemployment benefits to sustain them through these longer periods of unemployment.
· Millions of Americans rely on weekly unemployment benefits. In May, 9.8 million individuals relied on some form of unemployment compensation to support themselves and their families. [NELP, 5/28/10] The unemployment insurance system assists Americans who are eligible by replacing part of their wages so they may continue to provide for their families. Unemployment compensation provides up to 99 weeks of benefits to individuals who have lost their job through no fault of their own.
Unemployment benefits are an effective way to inject money into the economy. Senate Democrats recognize that investments in unemployment benefits produce a meaningful impact on local economic growth. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that for every $1.00 spent on unemployment benefits, as much as $1.90 in GDP couldbe returned to the economy. [Congressional Budget Office, 1/2010] When the unemployed receive unemployment checks, they spend this money immediately on basic goods like food, gas, and health care, contributing to the local economy with increased consumer spending.