Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: New Labor Department Reports Show Major Increase in State Unemployment & Surge in Workers Running Out of State Jobless Benefits
Press Release

RELEASE: New Labor Department Reports Show Major Increase in State Unemployment & Surge in Workers Running Out of State Jobless Benefits

Senate Must Act to Expand Federal Support When Congress Reconvenes

Read CAPAF’s Unemployment Insurance State Fact Sheets here.

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the Labor Department released the latest monthly report on state joblessness, showing a major increase in unemployment across every region of the U.S. In addition, new government data released this week document a surge in the number of workers running out of their 26 weeks of state jobless benefits. More than one million Americans will run out of their limited 13 weeks of federal jobless benefits before the year ends, requiring immediate action to expand jobless benefits when Congress reconvenes November 17th.

As of September, the Labor Department reported that there were 10 states—California, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee, plus the District of Columbia—with especially high levels of unemployment exceeding 7.0 percent, up from 8 states last month and 1 state in January 2008. Moreover, 15 states now have unemployment rates exceeding 6.5 percent, double the number in just the past 3 months. Over the past year, all but 3 states have experienced increases in unemployment, averaging an increase of 1.2 percentage points.

In states across the U.S., unemployment rates have now surpassed the record levels dating back to the recession of the 1990s, including several Southern states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina), Northeast states (Rhode Island), Midwest states (Illinois, Michigan, Ohio), and West Coast states (California, Nevada).

This week, the Labor Department also reported that over 300,000 workers ran out of their 26 weeks of state jobless benefits in September, an increase of 58 percent in the past year. According to Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, “the latest state reports underscore the critical need for the Senate to expand jobless benefits as soon as it reconvenes and help stabilize the state economies."

Before the Congressional recess, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to expand jobless benefits. “Unemployment Insurance makes a big difference for people trying to support their families while they look for work. With the economy losing jobs, and long term joblessness increasing as a result, the Senate should act right away to extend benefits and keep hundreds of thousands of families from falling into poverty,” said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of the “Half in Ten” campaign.

Teresa Metzger is a laid off worker in Georgia, a state that reached a 16-year-high unemployment rate of 6.5 percent. Struggling to avoid eviction and to care for her two young children, Ms. Metzger wrote Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson to support Senate action expanding jobless benefits: "I am no stranger to hard work, as I have been working steadily since the very young age of 13. I have contributed hundreds of dollars to social security and paid thousands in taxes. All I am asking for is the favor to be returned. . . . I cannot believe that there is any hesitation to passing such a bill to support American workers who are the backbone of this country. Haven’t we suffered enough?”

For more information on the Labor Department’s September report on joblessness and on state breakdowns on the number of workers exhausting their state and federal jobless benefits, see the attached table.

To set up an interview with a National Employment Law Project spokesperson, please contact Jeanine Plant at 646-265-7721. To speak with Lisa Donner of the Half in Ten Campaign, please contact John Neurohr at 202-481-8182.

Read CAPAF’s Unemployment Insurance State Fact Sheets here.

Half in Ten is a campaign to cut poverty in the U.S. in half in the next ten years, and help tens of millions of families move from poverty to prosperity. It is dedicated to promoting specific proven policy solutions to the crisis of poverty, while building commitments to the goal of cutting poverty, and momentum for further change. It grew out of the work of the Task Force on Poverty convened by CAPAF, and is anchored by ACORN, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Coalition on Human Needs, and CAPAF.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) works to restore the promise of economic opportunity in the 21st century economy. In partnership with national, state and local allies, NELP promotes policies and programs that create good jobs, strengthen upward mobility, enforce hard-won worker rights, and help unemployed workers regain their economic footing through improved benefits and services.