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Rising Unemployment Highlights Need for Federal Expansion of Unemployment Insurance Funds

While the financial crisis has received more of the headlines, there has been a growing unemployment crisis over the last year.  With unemployment at a five-year high, nearly 10 million Americans were officially unemployed last month, with nearly 500,000 workers applying for benefits each week.  And the problem doesn't stop there, with long-term joblessness rising:

  • 2 million workers were unemployed for longer than six months as of September.
  • Even with the federal government adding an additional 13 weeks of federally funded jobless benefits on top of the 26 weeks provided by the states, 800,000 workers have exhausted even those additional 13 weeks of benefits.
  • This problem is reaching crisis proportions in a number of states where joblessness is concentrated.

The National Employment Law Project, Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Half in Ten have prepared fact sheets highlighting the particular problems facing states with a surge in unemployment, including:

Alaska | Colorado | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | Maine | Mississippi | Missouri | North Carolina | Nevada | Ohio

The House of Representatives has already passed legislation to fund additional benefits for all states, with extra relief for those especially hard-hit.   The Senate should follow suit when Congress reconvenes after the election.