Merkley Joins Effort to Provide Assistance to Unemployed Oregonians

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley
announced today that he has co-sponsored legislation to extend assistance to
those currently unemployed.  The legislation will provide up to an
additional twenty weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to Oregonians who
have exhausted their benefits by the end of December 2009. 

“During these difficult economic times it’s important to ensure that jobless
Americans can make ends meet while they’re looking for a fresh start,” said
Merkley.  “These benefits will help ease the burden on unemployed
Oregonians and put money back in their pockets to help stimulate the local

The bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI),
and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), will provide an additional fourteen weeks of
unemployment benefits to nearly two million Americans in all fifty states who
face exhausted benefits by the end of 2009.  States like Oregon, that have
experienced a three month average rate of 8.5% unemployment or higher, will
receive up to an additional six weeks of unemployment benefits, for a total of
twenty weeks.

Oregon currently has an unemployment rate of 11.5
percent.  In September, approximately 211,000 Oregonians were out of work
compared to 121,000 a year ago.

“I am proud to join my colleagues in an effort to help those
who are struggling to find work during the economic recession,” said
Merkley.  “This legislation will give Oregonians, who want nothing more
than a good paying job, the assistance they need to get back on their feet.”

The legislation will also allow families who are currently receiving food stamps
to receive an additional $25 per week in unemployment benefits.  The
legislation will cover railroad workers facing expiring benefits and allow
people who have left their jobs to escape sexual assault to become eligible for