Press release (pdf)
The economy has taken a serious turn for the worse for workers and their families. There has been a significant surge in unemployment, and Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio are some of many states that have been hit particularly hard.
The nation’s unemployment rate reached a five-year high of 6.1 percent in September. Nearly 10 million Americans were officially unemployed last month and still actively looking for work. Unemployment claims are now at a seven-year high, with nearly 500,000 workers applying for benefits every week.
There has also been a major increase in long-term joblessness. The number of workers who found themselves unemployed for more than six months while still actively looking for work increased by nearly 300,000 from May to September, reaching 2 million workers last month. Congress should make every effort to expedite unemployment insurance legislation that expands the UI program to address the severe hardship faced by record numbers of unemployed workers.
The federal government enacted the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program on June 28th, which provides an additional 13 weeks of federally funded extended jobless benefits to workers beyond the 26 weeks of unemployment insurance provided by the states. Since the federal program of extended jobless benefits was enacted, nearly 900,000 more workers have become unemployed in a rapidly declining economy, and 800,000 workers have reached the end of those 13 weeks of federal jobless benefits. These national figures are stark, but they understate the even more serious situation facing many individual states, which are suffering from particularly high levels of unemployment.
Given the recent surge in unemployment, Congress should act swiftly to pass UI legislation that will fund additional benefits for all states. The legislation will provide extra relief for especially hard-hit states. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of such a measure in October, and the Senate should follow suit in its November session.
Read more about how the economic downturn has affected employment rates in the states:
Press release (pdf)
For more information, contact Judy Conti at the National Employment Law Project (202-533-2573), Lisa Donner at Half in Ten (202-682-1611), or Alexandra Cawthorne at the Center for American Progress Action Fund (202-682-1611).
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