As we approach the end of the year, Michigan families are once again doing the things they do each year in November: bringing out winter coats, planning for the holidays, deciding on end-of-year charitable contributions and, for nearly 93,000 Michigan families with a long-term unemployed breadwinner, wondering if their Unemployment Insurance benefits will run out before they find work.
As we baste turkey, let’s tell Congress not to play chicken with long-term Unemployment Insurance this year. Last year, and the year before, Congress dragged its feet on renewing the benefits until the very last minute, creating drama in the U.S. Capitol and in households for which long-term UI is a lifeline. (This is the third autumn in a row that a blog urging renewal has appeared in this space).
As the time gets closer to the deadline each year, some in Congress make the same old pushbacks, ranging from assertions that UI discourages work to complaints about cost to simply telling unemployed workers “tough *&@#!” At the last minute, the benefits have always been renewed, and that needs to happen again this year, preferably without the drama. It is important to remember that renewing Emergency Unemployment Compensation not only helps families as they look for work, but is also an important stimulus for the economy.
Not renewing the benefits will be a drag on the economy. We are not out of the woods yet; the unemployment rate in the state and in the nation has improved, but is still far too high. Too many workers are still unable to find work. Thankfully, Michigan’s Rep. Sandy Levin is leading the call for Congress to act on this issue. There is support from other members for reauthorization, but there needs to be majority support, and it needs to be taken up by leadership. Now would be a good time to call your U.S. Representative to urge support for the renewal of long-term Unemployment Insurance.
If he or she is already supportive, be sure to say thanks.
— Peter Ruark