It is December again. Along with the annual holiday season comes what is beginning to feel like an annual drama: Congress approaching year’s end without reauthorizing long-term Unemployment Insurance benefits.
If Congress does not reauthorize Emergency Unemployment Compensation, up to 189,700 Michigan workers could lose benefits as they continue to look for jobs: 43,800 immediately, an additional 86,500 if their unemployment goes beyond 20 weeks before June 2014, and 59,400 more if they go beyond 20 weeks between July and December 2014.
Each year, we hear the same arguments that continuing long-term benefits discourages people from seeking work, and each year those who actually study the subject respond that EUC promotes job-hunting and helps create jobs.
We also hear the argument that the recession is over and the United States and Michigan are not experiencing the hardship that we were a few years ago. Those who look at the unemployment rates know that the national rate is still higher than it was at any time from mid-1993 to 2008, and that Michigan currently has the third-highest rate in the country. The need for the safety net is still there.
I’m happy to report that once again Michigan’s Congressman Sandy Levin is leading the movement in the U.S. House to reauthorize EUC. However, there is strong pushback by some in both the House and the Senate to discontinue or greatly reduce the benefits.
It is important that you contact your members of Congress and tell them that there are still too many unemployed workers looking for work and it is too soon to discontinue long-term unemployment benefits. If you are unsure of who represents you in Congress, you can look it up by zip code.
— Peter Ruark