Washington, DC— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered the following remarks this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the importance of extending unemployment benefits to provide relief for American families. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“It is an understatement to say that the current economic downturn is the worst the country has experienced in a generation.
“The reality is that the crisis the President inherited coming into office was worse than anything the country has seen since the Great Depression.
“The economy was losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. Banks were in crisis and had stopped lending.
“The President and Congress acted swiftly and passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Acthich has stopped the bleeding and avoided an economic catastrophe.
“Today the July unemployment numbers were reported. They paint a better picture than was anticipated.
“The number of jobs lost last month was the lowest since spring 2008, and the national unemployment rate actually fell from 9.5% to 9.4%. This is welcome news and further proof that the economic recovery plan we enacted is producing positive results.
“That’s the good news. But many Americans still continue to struggle as a result of this economic crisis. Over the next several weeks, long-term unemployed workers will begin exhausting their unemployment compensation benefits. Some estimates put the number of unemployed workers who have used up their benefits by the end of September at 500,000. By the end of the year, the number of unemployed workers who will exhaust their benefits will total 1.5 million.
“With the job market as depressed as it is, most of these workers will not be able to find work. They will then have no means by which to take care of their families.
“Soon after Congress returns to Washington, we will need to address this matter. And we must do so with the understanding that most economic experts believe job growth will be one of the last things to recover from this economic crisis.
“There is an economic case to be made for extending unemployment benefits. Last year, when analyzing the effectiveness of various stimulus proposals, Mark Zandi found that extended unemployment benefits generated $1.64 for every dollar of cost. That means unemployment benefits are a sound investment.
“There should be no disagreement that we must help those who are suffering as a result of an economic crisis they did not create. We will keep fighting until unemployed workers in Nevada and across the nation get jobs.”