Lowey: Expiring Federal Jobless Aid Must Be Renewed in New Year
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – More than 4,000 Westchester residents and 1.3 million nationwide will lose all federal jobless aid starting Dec. 28, which could send them over a frightening financial cliff, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey said Tuesday.
The U.S. House of Representatives adjourned for the rest of the year without extending unemployment insurance benefits, which took effect in 2008 to help families recover from the financial collapse. It applies to laid-off workers who have maxed out on their six months of state compensation, which is typically 26 weeks.
“As the holiday season approaches, the financial stakes could not be higher for Lower Hudson Valley families,” Lowey said. “To strengthen these families and our economy, Congress must retroactively extend these essential benefits as the first order of business when it returns in 2014.”
In addition to the 127,100 jobless New Yorkers who already receive the federal jobless aid, 132,800 more would run out of their state benefits and not receive a federal extension in the first half of 2014 if Congress doesn’t renew the emergency unemployment compensation. It could also result in the U.S. losing 240,000 jobs in 2014, according to an analysis by the House’s Ways and Means Committee.
Extending the emergency unemployment benefits through 2014 would cost $26 billion, which would add to the federal debt and eventually reduce economic growth, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“It is a disgrace that millions of Americans and more than 100,000 New Yorkers, those who continue to suffer long term unemployment, will no longer be able to sustain themselves and their families because the U.S. Congress has failed to extend the Federal Unemployment Insurance,” Paul Ryan, president of Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body, said in a statement. “An unemployment insurance extension would provide needed relief for New York families, allow them to have some dignity and also provide a bridge until they can return to steady employment. Congress must pass an extension to the federal unemployment insurance now.”
In New York, the unemployment rate, is 7.6 percent. The national rate dropped from 7.3 to 7 percent in November. Those unemployed less than five weeks dropped by 300,000, but the long-term unemployed remained steady at 4.1 million, which is 37.8 percent of all unemployed workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, 718,000 long-term unemployed workers have found jobs in the past 12 months.
House Speaker John Boehner (R – Ohio) has said the lower unemployment rate would make it less likely the House would extend the unemployment benefits.
“Yet, that is just the beginning, because as more and more workers seeking jobs find none, they too will fall from hardship into catastrophe when they run out of the meager 26 weeks of benefits,” Joe Mayhew, secretary and treasurer of CWA Local 1103 and vice president of the Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body.