Washington, D.C. – In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined 27 of their colleagues in calling for a yearlong renewal of unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans. With the national unemployment rate at a staggering 9.6 percent and unemployment benefits slated to run out for 2 million Americans this December, the Senators stressed the need to provide unemployed Americans with the necessary resources to get back on their feet and help our economy recover.
“With nearly 15 million Americans unemployed and the number of unemployed expected to remain high beyond 2011, a long-term renewal of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and full federal funding of the Extended Benefit programs are necessary to keep our economy on the road to recovery, as well as to keep food on the table and a roof over the head of families across America,” the senators wrote.
“For the past six decades, Congress has provided federally funded unemployment insurance benefits during every recession. Further, federal unemployment insurance benefits have always been provided until the economy was on a stable path of growth. In fact, the highest unemployment rate at which federally funded unemployment benefits were not extended was 7.2 percent. Currently, the national unemployment rate is 9.6 percent. At the current rate, without a reauthorization, we would cut the life line that millions of Americans use to stay afloat. Equally importantly, we would endanger our fragile economic recovery by reducing the amount Americans spend on groceries, utilities and other basic needs.”
The Senators called for a yearlong renewal of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and full federal funding of the Extended Benefit program. According to the Economic Policy Institute, an extension of federally funded benefits would create 723,000 jobs and increase the gross domestic product by .7 percent.
Read the entire letter here.