Senator Stabenow Applauds Senate Vote to Move Forward on Extending Unemployment Insurance

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today voted with a bipartisan group of Senators to move forward on legislation that would extend emergency unemployment insurance for millions of Americans who are looking for work. Unemployment insurance for more than 43,000 people in Michigan expired on Dec. 28 after Republicans blocked an effort to extend the program into 2014. An additional 86,500 people in Michigan will lose their coverage in the first six months of 2014 if Congress doesn't act.

"Extending this temporary assistance for people out of work is critical so they can put food on the table, keep the heat on during brutally cold temperatures and keep a roof over their head while they look for a job," said Stabenow. "This emergency support has always been approved on a bipartisan basis during past downturns and I'm glad several Republicans joined Democrats in approving this today. This is a critical lifeline for families out of work through no fault of their own."

Extended unemployment insurance has historically been passed on a bipartisan basis during economic downturns to help families struggling with unemployment and to help bolster the economy. Emergency unemployment insurance was passed in the heart of the recent downturn in 2008 and has been reauthorized several times since as unemployment has remained above average. While the economy has been recovering over the past several years, there are still 1.3 million fewer jobs than there were before the recession began and there are still three unemployed people looking for work for every one job available. When President Bush first signed extended unemployment benefits in 2008, the national unemployment rate was 5.6%, and is currently 7%, while the Michigan rate is 8.8%.

The legislation that moved forward today would provide a three-month benefit extension, retroactive to Dec. 28, 2013.

Economists agree that extended unemployment insurance provides a boost to the economy. Failure to extend federal unemployment insurance would hurt job growth throughout the nation, costing the economy 240,000 jobs, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The CEA estimates that in Michigan alone, failing to extend the program will cost 8,450 jobs.