Merkley Joins Effort to Provide Assistance to Unemployed Oregonians

Merkley Joins Effort to Provide Assistance to Unemployed Oregonians

Bill Will Help Families, Put Money Into Economy

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 economy.” 

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 benefits.