EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Benefits Program Ends Nov. 30, 2010

EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Benefits Program Ends Nov. 30, 2010

Take action by   Tuesday, November 30, 2010

According to new analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), if
Congress allows the extended unemployment insurance benefits program to expire
by the end of November, 1.2 million jobless workers will lose their benefits by
the end of the year.

Jon Bloom, Executive Director of the Workers Defense League, Inc., explains
the extended unemployment insurance benefits program process in his recent
“Columbus Day, 2010” letter, reprinted in part here:

“Democrats, the unemployed, and advocates for the unemployed celebrated the
restoration in late July of funding for extended unemployment insurance (UI)
benefits.  The federally-funded extensions give the unemployed up to 67
additional weeks of benefits once they exhaust their initial 26 weeks of UI from
state funds.  Currently about five million of the 10 million Americans
receiving UI have exhausted their “initial” benefits and are receiving these
extended benefits.  Roughly three million were thrown off UI during the
more than 50 days it took to break the Republican filibuster blocking the
continued funding.  (Most were able to get their benefits restored
retroactively once the filibuster was broken.)  But Congress only restored
funding for a six-month period, from May 30 to November 30.”

“…when that funding expires, millions of unemployed could again be without
UI, with little chance of a rescue like the one in July.  That’s because
Republicans, if they gain in the mid-term election, are likely to succeed in
blocking further funding for extended benefits, either by November 30 or when
the new Congress begins in January 2011.”

“This means that individuals who have applied for UI since June 1, 2010 will
be eligible for a maximum of 26 weeks of UI and no more.  Those who have
already begun receiving extended benefits will not be cut off immediately, but
very few will be eligible for the full 93 weeks. 

The reason is that “extended” UI is actually a series of four extensions,
three of them called Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) “Tiers” (running
20, 14, and 13 weeks) and the final one called Extended Benefits (EB), running
an additional 20 weeks.  As a UI claimant finishes one extension, he or she
moves to the next one without interruption, a little like stepping from rooftop
to rooftop along a series of buildings. “

BASIC UI

26 weeks

Tier I

20 weeks

Tier II

14 weeks

Tier III

13 weeks

20 weeks

Funded by the state

Funded by the federal government

Funded by the federal government

Funded by the federal government

Funded by the federal
government

 

But if the extended benefit program is not renewed, when claimants reach the
end of whatever “Tier” they are in, that’s it.  There is no “next rooftop”
to step to—you’ve reached the end of the block.  The several million
unemployed who were thrown off UI during June and July, when funding for the
extensions was blocked, had exhausted their initial UI or completed one of the
three Tiers.  Starting November 30, this could happen again.  Within a
short time, millions of unemployed would be off the UI rolls.  In this
moment of continuing near-10% unemployment and near-record long-term
unemployment, this cutoff could devastate millions of families who are staying
afloat with the help of UI benefits.”

Detailed in the NELP report, Out in the Cold for the Holidays,
the November 30insurance cutoff would come during one of the worst
job recessions in decades, with just one job opening for every five unemployed
workers.

The national unemployment rate looms at 9.6 percent---for African
Americans, it is at an all time high of 16 percent.

The report provides state-by-state estimates of the numbers of workers
prematurely denied benefits if Congress fails to act by November 30. Other key
findings include:

  • Since the unemployment insurance program was created in response to the
    Great Depression, Congress has never cut federally-funded jobless benefits when
    unemployment was this high for this long, over 9 percent for 17 consecutive
    months.
  • Businesses and the struggling economy—especially the critical retail
    sector—will take a major blow if Congress fails to continue the federal jobless
    benefits during the holiday shopping season.
  • In 2009 alone, the increase in the number of people in poverty would have
    doubled were it not for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • With the average unemployment extension check of $290 a week replacing only
    half of the average family’s expenditures on transportation, food, and housing,
    jobless workers have a major incentive to look for work, notwithstanding the
    modest assistance their benefits checks provide.

Click here for the full NELP report:

http://www.nelp.org/page/-/UI/2010/november.extension.report.pdf

Congress does not return to work until Nov. 15

and then will adjourn again for the Thanksgiving
holiday, leaving just a few days when lawmakers are in town to extend the
lifeline that has been so vital as unemployment continues to hover near 10
percent. Congress will have to act fast when it reconvenes to avoid a
catastrophe. 

The Clock is Ticking

Click here to sign a petition to Congress to
act quickly and extend the UI program before it expires Nov.
30.

Be Sure to Visit UnemployedWorkers.org to mobilize support and push Congress
to act before the Nov. 30 deadline

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