Unless Congress acts now, lifeline aid for nearly 2 million workers who have lost jobs will be cut off
Dec. 31 as the extended unemployment insurance benefits expire. In California alone, 305,400 will lose
unemployment benefits. Over the course of 2012, an estimated 6 million U.S. workers struggling to find jobs
will lose these essential benefits if Congress continues to focus on keeping tax cuts for the 1% who crashed
our economy rather than helping the 99% by extending unemployment insurance.
If Congress fails to act, the impact on families, communities and our economy
will be devastating.
The average weekly benefit for an unemployed worker on the federal extension is about $297, which amounts
to only half of the income needed to cover the most basic necessities of food, housing and transportation, as
measured by the annual Consumer Expenditure Survey. In California, the weekly benefit averages $292.64.
While barely enough for a family’s survival, unemployment aid also supports
local economies in critical ways.
Unemployment benefits are pumped back into the economy immediately, flowing to local grocery stores, gas
stations, landlords and utilities. In California, the loss to communities could total $89,372,256 a week.
Nationwide, the economy grows by $2 for every dollar spent on unemployment insurance.
With unemployment rampant, now is not the time for Congress to delay or play
political games with the extension of unemployment aid.
Unemployment in CALIFORNIa
Total* 11.7 percent
African Americans** 19.5 percent
Latinos** 14.7 percent
20- to 24-year-olds, all** 19 percent
Not only are unemployment rates high, the duration of joblessness is tragic.
Nationally, nearly 45 percent of jobless workers—more than 6 million—have been jobless for six months
or longer. That rate has been at or above 40 percent for almost two years—the longest period of such high
persistent unemployment since 1948. The average length of joblessness is 40.5 weeks—more than nine
months—which is nearly double the average duration of joblessness in June 2009, when the Great Recession
Nationally, the unemployment rate has remained
at or near 9 percent for almost two and a half years.
In California, the rate is 11.7 percent; 2010 data (the
most recent available by state) tell an even harsher
story for African Americans: 19.5 percent; Latinos:
14.7 percent; and 20- to 24-year-olds: 19 percent.
Long-Term Unemployment Has Aff ected Lar ger Portions of Unemployed
Tha n Ever Before, and Remai ns Alar mingly HigH
Unemployment is contributing to the national scourge of home foreclosures. In
California, 1 in 243 housing units are facing foreclosure actions.
Nationally, 8 percent of mortgage borrowers were at least a month behind on their mortgage payments in the third
quarter of 2011 and 4.4 percent—more than 2 million loans—were in some stage of foreclosure.
Republican lawmakers have cruelly claimed long-term unemployment is due to
“lazy” workers “taking advantage” of unemployment assistance.
All it takes is a look at the modest level of benefits and the fact there are more than four job seekers for every
one opening to expose those claims as ridiculous and heartless.
Jobless workers should not pay the price for Wall Street’s recklessness.
After 18 months—the longest slump since the Great Depression—our own Great Recession officially ended in
Summer 2009. But for the 14 million Americans who are jobless and the 11.5 million who are underemployed
or have given up looking for work, the recession goes on.
The bursting of the housing bubble and related Wall Street recklessness drove us into this recession, but working
families bearing the cost and the loss of about 6.5 million jobs since the recession started now also face
the cut-off of survival benefits. As a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report concluded,
the Great Recession “was the result of high-risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts
of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies and the market itself to rein in the
excesses of Wall Street.”
• Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/_files/
• Hanging On By a Thread, National Employment Law Project, October 2011, www.nelp.org/page/-/UI/2011/NEL P_UI_Extension_Report_2011.pdf?nocdn=1
• U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, UI Program Statistics, Monthly Program and Financial Data, Summary Data for State Programs, by
State, Report Period for 1/2011; run date 11/21/11
• State unemployment rates, October 2011, www.bls.gov/lau/
• Employment status by race and ethnicity, 2010 averages, www.bls.gov/lau/table14full10.pdf
• U.S. mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures, The Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204517204577044401122300024.
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