Unemployment insurance, a vital lifeline for hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Wisconsinites and the communities they live in, will expire on March 6 unless Congress acts. In Wisconsin, there are currently 215,767 jobless workers.
“Rep. Paul Ryan needs to put politics aside do what is right for hundreds of thousands of jobless Wisconsinites and extend unemployment insurance,” said Maria Morales, a jobless worker from Racine. “Everyday, I get up and look for work. While I am job searching unemployment insurance provides a lifeline that helps me feed my family, put a roof over my head and keep the heat on. These proposals aren’t about saving money, but blaming the 99% for the jobs shipped off by the 1% and CEOs.”
House Republicans are proposing costly and burdensome barriers, like drug testing, that would make it even harder for jobless Americans to look for work. States such as Indiana, Florida and Texas have proven that drug testing the unemployed costs the state exponentionally more than it saves. Unless Congress acts soon to fully renew unemployment insurance for 2012 with no cuts and no barriers – Wisconsin’s jobless families and local economies are at risk.
On Saturday, February 11 working families stood together to “Roll out the Red Carpet” for the 1% at the Eclipse Center in Beloit. Jobless workers and community members came together to encourage Rep. Paul Ryan, a special guest at the event, to extend unemployment insurance for Wisconsin’s jobless.
“We need to spur the economy and keep it growing. Maintaining the unemployment insurance program does that,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Jobless benefits go straight back into the economy—they support local businesses, help create jobs, reduce the demand for public services and cost taxpayers less in the long run. Congress has to put politics aside and do what’s right for Americans who’ve lost their jobs and are struggling to survive. We must protect the communities that depend on the economic boost unemployment insurance provides.”
Fast Facts about Unemployment Insurance
• Fourteen million people are unemployed in the United States, many in the job search of their lives. According to the December 2011 Department of Labor jobs report, there are nearly 5.6 million people in the U.S. who have been jobless for six months or more—that’s more than 40 percent of all jobless Americans.
• The average duration of joblessness — 41 weeks — is higher than at any time in 60 years. At the same time, there are at least four jobless workers for job vacancy.
• 2.8 million Americans would lose unemployment insurance benefits under the House Republican proposal currently being considered.
• Based on the December 2011 jobs report, the cost of mandated drug tests for the 13.1 million jobless employees would be between $327,500,000 and $982,500,000 -- a cost that cash-strapped states simply can’t afford.
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