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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of an emergency extension of unemployment benefits for states with high rates of unemployment like my home state of New Jersey.
I hear all the time from Central New Jersey residents who are working hard each day to find a new job. Recently, a Mercer County resident wrote me to say his wife had been out of work for 11 months. He wrote to say, ``The jobs are just not available for her to go back to work.'' This bill answers his plea and the pleas of countless other out of work New Jersey residents to extend unemployment benefits while they continue to search for employment.
In tough economic times, Congress and the President have worked together to extend unemployment benefits when needed. The previous extensions of unemployment insurance during this current recession has helped many New Jersey residents keep a roof over their head and food on the table when times were tough. In this tight job market and with the economy just starting to show signs of recovery, there are still six unemployed workers for each job opening and more than five million people who have been unemployed for more than six months.
The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009, H.R. 3548, would extend an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who have exhausted their current benefits in states with unemployment rates above 8.5 percent. With New Jersey's unemployment rate at 9.4 percent, by the end of September it is estimated that 22,000 New Jerseyans will have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have nowhere else to turn. This bill will provide them with direct relief during a difficult time.
Our government must help those in need as they seek new work. Morally, it is the right thing to do and the economists tell us that unemployment benefits are one of the most cost-efficient and fast-acting forms of economic stimulus.
The bill does not add to the deficit, by off-setting its cost with a one year extension of an employment tax that has been in place for 30 years.
Once this bill is signed into law it is estimated that by December, this 13-week extension of unemployment would benefit 1 million Americans--including 42,000 New Jersey residents--who will be looking for work and have exhausted their existing unemployment benefits.
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