Times are difficult for Kentucky families. The combination of a struggling economy and rising fuel costs sent ripples through our community, forcing companies to downsize, savings to diminish, and bills to go unpaid. Times are challenging, but we are on the path to economic recovery, thanks to leadership from Congressman Yarmuth on a number of critical reforms that put money back in the pockets of Louisville families and laid the foundation for economic growth.
When Congressman Yarmuth came to Washington, one of the first votes he cast helped raise the minimum wage for the first time in over a decade. After raising the minimum wage, the Congressman helped craft an economic recovery package that put hundreds of dollars into the hands of more than 130 million American families-including seniors and disabled veterans. The package provided rebate checks of up to $600 per individual and $1,200 per married couple. Congressman Yarmuth championed provisions in this legislation to double the child tax credit and increase tax incentives for small businesses. This package helped reinvigorate the economy, giving Americans extra money to meet their needs.
Congressman Yarmuth also supported successful legislation to extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks to help millions of Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own and are struggling to find work in a slowing economy. Today, nearly 1.3 million workers have been unemployed for more than six months and the percentage of workers exhausting unemployment insurance benefits is higher than at the beginning of any of the past five recessions. This unemployment benefits extension will give over 30,000 Kentuckians time to find employment in today's difficult job market.
In addition to this relief, Congressman Yarmuth pushed for a solution to the housing crisis that largely triggered the economic downturn. The sub-prime mortgage crisis has forced the housing market into its worst slump in 16 years, with residential foreclosure orders in Jefferson Country increasing a staggering 215 percent since 2002. Fortunately, Congress responded with a housing package that will help families stay in their homes, strengthen consumer protections against risky loans in the future, and provide incentives to help families purchase new homes. This landmark legislation will help hardworking Americans in danger of losing their home refinance into lower-cost government-insured mortgages-at no cost to the American taxpayer.
All of these provisions combined have helped set the country on a path to economic recovery. There is still a lot work to do, and Congressman Yarmuth is continuing to fight for change in Washington so that Louisville is an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.