Critical Lifeline Lost When Unemployment Benefits End

By Lucille Roybal-Allard

Even as our economy moves toward recovery, albeit slowly, the scourge of unemployment persists in many greater Los Angeles communities. Among them are communities in my 40th Congressional district where unemployment stubbornly remains well above the national average.

While local businesses tell me they see improvement, there are still far too many Angelenos looking for work who need their unemployment benefits to feed their families. Tragically, by blocking the extension of these benefits the Congressional Republican Leadership is preventing them and millions of Americans from receiving this critical lifeline.

Unemployment payments average $300 per week and replace less than 50% of what a person was earning. Yet these benefits can make the difference in preventing homelessness and hunger. In 2012, for example, unemployment benefits kept an estimated 2.5 million Americans including 600,000 children, out of poverty.

Republicans say they oppose extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance because these benefits provide a disincentive to work and make unemployed Americans content to live off of taxpayer-support.

I say this is an insult to America’s workers and our strong work ethic that has made this country the best and most powerful in the world.

The reality is there are 1.3 million fewer jobs today than when many of these Americans became unemployed during our country’s economic downturn often called the great recession.

The reality is that in spite of continued efforts to find employment, there are nearly three jobseekers for every available job.

American workers are unemployed not because they are lazy and unmotivated to work but because currently there are simply not enough jobs for everyone who needs one.

This fact is magnified in our state of California where we have 400,000 fewer jobs available today than we did six years ago.

A recent report by the House Ways and Means Committee Democratic staff found that 263,916 individuals already have lost their benefits. One such Californian is Vincent Bussey, who has been looking for work for a year. His federal unemployment insurance ran out on December 28, and he is concerned he may have to start sleeping in his car and going to local food pantries.

Another American is Jessica Kruh. Since May, when she lost the $12.40-an-hour receptionist job she had for two years, Jessica had been receiving $270 a week to support herself and her 5-year-old son. Even with a certificate in medical coding, she didn’t get her first interview until October. Since then, she has interviewed for five jobs. Two, she didn’t get. She is still waiting to hear about the other three. If her unemployment insurance is cut off before she finds a job, the combination of rent and utilities would take all but $100 of her family’s monthly after-tax pay, not enough to cover car insurance, gas and food. Jessica says she feels a sense of dread about how this cut will not only impact her, but her son’s life as well. It is simply unconscionable to punish Americans like Vincent and Jessica who lost their job through no fault of their own and are actively looking for work.

It is also important to note that unemployment benefits do more than provide a critical lifeline for out of work Americans. They also help support our national economy. Economists estimate that every dollar of unemployment benefits generates a dollar and fifty five cents in new economic activity. This means our national economy is losing $400 million every week Republicans in Congress refuse to extend these benefits. Furthermore, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the economy will lose 200,000 jobs if these emergency unemployment benefits are not extended. Simply put, unemployment insurance is not only a moral imperative, but one that helps keep our economic recovery moving in the right direction.

We are a country of hardworking Americans who value work and are the best and most productive in the world. We are also a caring country whose values do not support turning our backs on our fellow Americans who are struggling to survive as they look for work. I strongly urge Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor to heed the cries of the unemployed struggling to find work and pass the extension of unemployment insurance without delay.

 

U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard is a Democrat and represents California’s 40th Congressional District.

 

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February 13, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

6 Responses to “Critical Lifeline Lost When Unemployment Benefits End”

  1. MiKe D on February 13th, 2014 2:08 pm

    It’s about time somebody has spoke the Truth about the unemployment Extension.
    This has and will continue to be very devastating to those who lost it and to the economy…. remember what comes around goes around without the Extensions businesses will start Hurting also.
    This way the republicatians can blame the Growth of the economy on the Democrats (Elections Coming Up)
    Republications this is a NO Brainer!

  2. julie judkins on February 13th, 2014 9:27 pm

    I can not believe what has happened to our so called leaders.
    There is a huge sense of not caring.
    It has gone on way too long, going without food, utilities, rent, medical, gas in order to travel for employment medications and the list gets longer and longer.
    This situation has become abusive and intentional neglect, which is a crime.
    The ECU program needs to be installed NOW!!!!!!!!! So maybe the unemployed could stand a chance to survive!!!!!!!!
    All of you in Congress and the House should be put in the same position as so many are, then maybe you would have a clearer picture.
    It is unforgivable how you as our Leaders are destroying the middle class people.
    I do not even know how you sleep at night.
    Get up off your high horses and work together for the people, especially the ones that are not going to survive much longer.
    If this is not settled soon, I would not be surprised if the crime rate goes up.
    Then who is to blame????????????
    Pass EUC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Patrick mcdonald on February 14th, 2014 8:12 am

    Looking for work not lazy.Losing my home/car/food and ability and to be able to seek employment.Joining the ranks of those who are not counted rest assured my vote will be.thanks!!!! Congress

  4. Mark G Eden on February 14th, 2014 3:04 pm

    Never in 40 years did i ever need any assistance. I made a plan with unemployment in my local state and recieved training and was able to complete my Bachelors Degree. I apply for jobs that I am over qualified for and have received only 2 interviews. Part of my issue is the fact I am 58 years old and nobody wants to hire a older person, or at least it seems. Plus the jobs have been given to illegals and there are not decent paying jobs available. If you want to talk about entitlements, look at all the “white-collar” erntitlements that continues to this day. And let us not forget the big bailouts to financial institutions and their bonus compensation checks at the expense of tax payers. Take $270.00 away from the big CEO’s and it means nothing, but take it from us, it means food, clothes and heat.

  5. Norma Keysq on February 17th, 2014 3:44 pm

    I agree with all the comments…This is not crazy but just cruel.. Its like they are wanting us to starve to death. I have worked all my life and a loss job last year has gotten me to the point I have no idea what to do. It did help receiving the unemployment benefits. I just ran out of my regular benefits when now I can not get nothing. I would gladly give Congress my email address and password. They can look at the hundreds and hundreds of jobs I have applied for. Still nothing.. but..who am I? I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth although Congress things we all were…. America….the land of the free??? I do not think so……

  6. Gary Graham on February 17th, 2014 5:15 pm

    I guess the GOP just don’t get it ! All this finicanal gloom & doom was a result of what went on during their watch. Now that they lost their “juice” in the house on the hill, they want to stop helping those Americans in need through no fault of their own in dire need. They had no problem coming up with the monies to bail out the corporate sector with their lobbiest. The longterm unemployed can’t afford high powered speakers on their behalf. Come next elections, I’ll be remembering their high and mighty attitudes. Hopefully & deservingly so, most of them will land on unemployment !

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