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Unemployment Insurance Extension Filibuster Worsens Economic Pain

The country is still reeling from the effects of the downturn.  Though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has undoubtedly benefited the economy, there are still 15 million Americans out of work.

Unfortunately, due to right-wing obstructionism in the US Senate, Congress was unable to extend unemployment insurance (UI) resulting in 1.7 million Americans losing their benefits on July 3.  The Department of Labor released state-by-state breakdowns of Americans who lost UI earlier this month. 

Follow this link to view a chart of the Estimated Number of Claimants Losing Unemployment Benefits by July 3, 2010 if Congress Fails to Continue Federal UI Programs.

If Congressional inaction continues, a total of 3.2 million workers will lose their umemployment benefits by the end of July.  Furthermore, as the Center for American Progress notes, "[t]he lapse in congressional reauthorization forces 23 states and the District of Columbia to stop distributing extended benefits at a time when additional unemployment insurance benefits are needed most."

Not only are unemployment benefits critical for the long-term unemployed, but federal inaction on UI threatens economic recovery.  Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com and former adviser to Senator John McCain, finds that extending unemployment benefits provides a significant fiscal bang for the buck in fueling economic recovery by maintaining consumer spending in hard-hit communities.  In fact, every $1 in federal spending on extending UI generates $1.61 in market activity.

As Zandi states, "[t]he odds that the economy will slip back into the recession are still well below even.  But if Congress is unable to provide this help, those odds will rise and become uncomfortably high."  Congress needs to move swiftly and boldly on enacting further job creation to boost the ailing economy.  If you are a state lawmaker, please sign onto a letter calling on the President and Congress to enact a comprehensive jobs plan, including fiscal relief to states and local governments to foster economic growth and create and maintain jobs.

Resources
Center for American Progress - Today's Unemployment Crisis by the Numbers
House Ways and Means Committee - Estimated Number of Claimants Losing Unemployment Benefits by July 3, 2010if Congress Fails to Continue Federal UI Programs
The Huffington Post - Congress Should Quit Its Deficit Dithering Unless It Wants Another Recession
Mark Zandi - The Impact of the Recovery Act on Economic Growth
Progressive States Network - Saving Jobs: More Federal Action Needed on State Fiscal Relief