Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Conyers: “Extending Unemployment Insurance Is the Least Congress Can Do”

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) issued the following statement regarding Congress’s continuing failure to extend emergency Unemployment Insurance (UI).  On December 28, 1.3 million Americans immediately lost access to UI, with the expiration of the program.  Every week, an average of 72,000 more Americans are cut off from assistance. 

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“More than two million Americans have lost their UI benefits since they expired at the end of last year. This includes at least 106,200 people in Michigan. Until the House takes action, 72,000 people will lose benefits each week.

Many opponents of extending unemployment insurance have argued that doing so would be ‘fiscally irresponsible.’  I take a different view: I believe it is always fiscally responsible to save people from falling into destitution, starvation, and despair. 

Half a decade after the start of the Great Recession—a crisis caused by recklessness on Wall Street—America’s working families are still suffering mightily.   There are more than 11 million people searching for work, including at least 4 million who have gone without pay six months or longer.   There’s just one job opening for every three applicants.  More than 50 million people – including 13 million children—live in poverty in America today.  

Joblessness not only means financial harm but also anxiety and lost health coverage.  It means lost homes through foreclosures.  It means a loss of skills and lifelong earnings potential.    Extending emergency unemployment insurance would help ease the human suffering that lies behind the statistics.  

But extending emergency unemployment insurance isn’t just about helping the unemployed and their families: It’s about helping our economy as a whole. An extension of unemployment insurance would boost consumption and consumer demand, leading to an estimated additional 200,000 jobs in the coming year.   When unemployed Americans receive income, they spend it.  When they can go out and purchase their necessities, they boost the economy and promote job-creation.  All this boosts tax revenue and reduces deficits.  It should be no surprise that, for every $1 the government spends on safety net program, it creates up to $2 in economic growth. 

Extending emergency unemployment insurance is, in short, both good ethics and good economics.  Let’s do the right thing for unemployed Americans and for the economy as a whole.  Let’s restore unemployment insurance and get America back to a serious full employment agenda. “

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