As you may have heard, Congress is effectively hours away from adjournment. One of the items that is not yet resolved is renewal of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). Enacted in 2008 during the height of the economic crisis, EUC is actually two programs that provide extended benefits when the initial 26 weeks of unemployment compensation are exhausted.
Currently, there are 1.3 Million out of work Americans that are receiving EUC. If Congress does not act before adjournment to continue these EUC, those 1.3 Million job seekers will lose their EUC benefits shortly after the holidays. Another 850,000 job seekers will exhaust their 26 weeks of state UI benefits in early 2014, and without renewal of EUC there will be no federal lifeline for them. So that will bring the total to over 2 Million job seekers without any access to unemployment benefits.
There are two schools of thought about benefits extension in Congress. Most progressives are in support of renewing EUC; however there are a number of House and Senate members contend that EUC was designed to be a temporary measure and should not continue to be renewed.
However, with the unemployment rate remaining stagnant at 7.2% and low job creation numbers (148,000 for October), there aren’t enough jobs being created to put these 1.3 Million people back to work. And per the National Employment Law Project, there are still 4.1 Million long-term unemployed; the balance of those are not receiving any form of unemployment benefits.
A recent note from JP Morgan chief economist Michael Feroli postulates that the 1.3M unemployed may stop actively seeking work entirely. This would have the net effect of lowering the unemployment rate (as it only includes those actively seeking work), but would not be a truly accurate indicator of the actual number of unemployed Americans (it isn’t now, actually).
With the mainstream media transfixed on the Healthcare.gov fiasco, this story is mostly getting lost. Which is truly unfortunate for over 2 Million Americans.
Feel passionate about this issue? Write your Congressperson and share your views.