WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, today released a new report underscoring the economic case for reauthorizing federal unemployment insurance designed to keep Americans above water as they search for work. The report shows that the long-term unemployment rate is twice what it was when Congress last allowed federal unemployment insurance to expire after the recessions of 1990-91 and 2001. Approximately 1.3 million workers lost all unemployment benefits on December 28th and, barring Congressional action, benefits will expire for an additional 3.6 million over the next year. Klobuchar is a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation to extend federal unemployment insurance and today urged immediate action to restore this critical safety net.
“By helping families stay afloat while they look for work, unemployment insurance has kept millions of Americans out of poverty,” Klobuchar said. “Rather than removing the safety net Americans rely on, we should be focused on policies that help people get back to work, including extending this critical assistance that allows them to pay their rent and fill their gas tanks while they’re searching for jobs.”
Since 2008, unemployment insurance has kept 11 million people out of poverty, including 620,000 children in 2012 alone. Klobuchar’s report also highlights the larger economic impact of emergency unemployment assistance: If extended through 2014, these benefits would boost GDP by 0.2 percentage point and increase employment by roughly 200,000 jobs.
According to Klobuchar’s report, the average duration of unemployment now outlasts most state-funded unemployment insurance programs by over two and a half months, making federal support all the more important for the long-term unemployed.
Klobuchar is a cosponsor of The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) that would extend federal support for unemployment insurance for three months to give Congress more time to reach agreement on a longer-term extension. Last April, she released a report and held a hearing on the need to address long-term unemployment.