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Washington, D.C.–Today, as the clock ticks down on the December 31 deadline for Congress to continue unemployment benefits, the Center for American Progress released five reasons why passing this legislation is critically important to active job seekers and our nation’s economy.
Unemployment benefits are the primary means of assistance that the federal and state governments provide to people who lose their job through no fault of their own and are unable to find a new one. If Congress fails to act by the end of the month, 2.2 million unemployed Americans will lose benefits by February 2012.
Without further extensions and continued benefits, it is highly likely that millions of people will still be looking for a job in 2012. This is bad news for the jobless and for our economy. Congress could mitigate the current inhospitable job climate and assist millions of active job seekers trying to make ends meet. Here are five reasons why they should:
- For every one job opening, there are five people actively looking for employment. As recently as October, nearly half of all unemployed workers, 43 percent or 5.7 million people, had been out of work and actively looking for a job for six months.
- By allowing unemployment benefits to end, Congress would allow the economy to lose around $50 billion in demand, which would further hinder its recovery and cost our country another 275,000 jobs.
- Benefits for those facing long-term unemployment have helped create around 700,000 jobs per quarter over the past few years.
- Unemployed people put their benefits back into the economy, helping it grow and recover, and are likely to spend their benefits quickly and completely. For every $1 spent on unemployment benefits, the economy gains $2.
- In 2010 unemployment benefits lifted 3.2 million Americans out of poverty.
“Never before has Congress cut off benefits when unemployment was so high,” said Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the Center from American Progress. “Unemployment benefits have been shown to spare active job seekers from living in poverty, and to boost the struggling economy. Lawmakers cannot afford to miss this opportunity to protect the middle class and spur the American economy toward lower unemployment.”
Read Five Reasons to Continue Unemployment Benefits: Why the Unemployed are Worthy of Assistance
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