Pass Emergency Unemployment Benefitsby Representative Mike Quigley
Posted on 2014-01-08
QUIGLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge the House to consider
and pass emergency unemployment benefits for the 1.3 million long-term
unemployed American workers.
On December 28, 82,000 Illinois workers' unemployment insurance expired--38,000 of those workers in Cook County and 5,000 more in DuPage. The Senate has agreed on a bipartisan basis to extend emergency unemployment insurance, and the House should act today to do the same.
Opponents of extending emergency unemployment insurance may say isn't the emergency over? While the economy on the whole has improved, there is still an emergency, a jobs emergency.
There are 2.9 unemployed workers for every available job. Long-term unemployment is still at the highest rate we have seen in this country since World War II. Opponents of extending emergency unemployment insurance criticize the long-term unemployed, belittling their efforts to find work in this economy. For the worker out of a job for 27 weeks or longer, you have just a 12 percent chance of finding a new job within the month. These numbers continue to fall with each passing week. These workers face challenges to their health, to their mental well-being, and they often struggle with family relationships.
I left Chicago yesterday, where Illinois has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country. Yet I come to Washington to inaction on unemployment insurance and jobs legislation. Instead of blaming workers, let us as Members of Congress look in the mirror. What have we done to address the issue of long-term unemployment? Last year, we took dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but we have done little to create jobs. We have done nothing to advance immigration reform, which will infuse over $1 trillion in our economy over the next 20 years and create jobs. We have done little to address the Nation's long-term transportation needs by investing in infrastructure, which will create jobs. We have done little to invest in research and education, which will grow our economy and make us more globally competitive, all of which create jobs.
Instead of playing politics, let us take it upon ourselves to pass meaningful jobs legislation, and let us extend benefits to these workers in their time of need.