Here’s the plain truth about what’s at stake in the unemployment insurance extension fight that is about to take place when Congress returns for its lame-duck session next week: If congressional Republicans succeed in blocking an extension of extended unemployment benefits, 2 million people will lose their unemployment benefits in December, followed by hundreds of thousands more in subsequent months. Plus, the economy’s growth rate will shrink by 0.4 percent—and that means thousands of fewer jobs created or even jobs lost.
That’s the reality, spelled out in a Center for Budget and Policy Priorities report released today and estimates by Zach Pandl, an economist with Nomura Securities International, who was interviewed in this article by The Huffington Post.
The extended benefits program allowed unemployed people to collect benefits as long as 99 weeks. CBPP has published a state-by-state chart of the impact of the loss of these benefits.
The scene of Republicans saying they want more private-sector job creation at the same time they vote to stymie private-sector job creation will be yet another example of conservative ideology not adding up.
If Congress refuses to pass extended unemployment benefits, “the resulting reduction in incomes may hurt consumer spending at the height of the holiday shopping period and restrain economic growth,” Bloomberg News reported earlier this week, citing research from Pandl.
Despite some good news today that the four-week average of new unemployment claims dropped to its lowest level this year, the reality is we are still in a job market in which there were only 2.9 million job openings in September for nearly 15 million unemployed people. That’s an average of five people competing for each job opening.
A coalition of progressive activists is mobilizing a full-court press to get a one-year unemployment benefits extension through Congress by the end of the month. Anything less will kick the can into next year’s Republican-controlled House, where the chances of getting a meaningful extension passed is virtually nil. As it stands now, an extension will have to overcome a near solid wall of Republican opposition and the skittishness of several conservative Democrats.
It’s time to bombard members of the House and Senate with calls, letting them know that regardless of who you did or did not vote for, you were not voting for Uncle Scrooge to destroy the Christmas holidays of 2 million people and to make a sluggish economic economy even weaker.