Unemployment Benefit Extension Needed for 3.2 Million

The IAM calls for an extension of federal unemployment benefits after the Senate approved a budget deal Wednesday that left 1.3 million jobless Americans, including 20,000 veterans, out in the cold.

“While the official unemployment rate has shrunk to 7 percent, our economy still has 1.3 million fewer jobs than before the start of the Great Recession and there continues to be three unemployed Americans for each available job,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger in a recent letter to Congress. “Since 1958 Congress has continued the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program when long-term unemployment, as a percent of the workforce, is as high as it is now. Long-term unemployment remains at historic levels and is at least twice as high as the expiration of every previous program.”

EUC benefits are scheduled to expire December 28.

Congress’ failure to extend the program could also cost an additional 1.9 million Americans their benefits over the next six months.

Not only will that deal a major blow to the jobless, idled through no fault of their own, says Buffenbarger, but it will also be another major hit to the ailing economy. Every dollar spent on unemployment benefits stimulates $1.64 in economic demand.

“While unemployment benefits average a modest $300 per week, unemployment compensation puts food on the table, helps provide the resources for the unemployed to look for work, and provides support for consumer demand,” wrote Buffenbarger. “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that ending the EUC program will cost our economy 200,000 urgently needed jobs.

“I strongly urge you to take immediate action to extend the EUC program through 2014 through the passage of appropriate legislation.”

Click here to tell Congress to extend federal unemployment benefits today.