Washington D.C. -- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today voted for the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, legislation she cosponsored, to restore and extend emergency unemployment benefits for three months. The procedural vote received bill bipartisan support in the Senate (60-37) and will move forward for a final vote.
"I'm proud that we were able to come together in a bipartisan way and get this done," said Baldwin. "Restoring economic assistance for Americans who have lost their jobs and are trying to find new ones is the right thing to do, and is good for the country's economy. Wisconsin's economy continues to lag behind other states and far too many hard working people are still looking for a job. Now is not the time to make things harder for them by ending emergency unemployment assistance. Wisconsin's economy can't afford the expiration of unemployment insurance because it will cost our economy jobs and slow growth. Passing emergency unemployment compensation will help Wisconsin families put gas in the car and food on the table as they search for work. This bipartisan legislation will provide a lifeline for Wisconsin families as they search for work in our recovering economy."
A new report released by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee shows that the long-term unemployment rate is twice what it was when Congress last allowed federal unemployment insurance to expire after the recessions of 1990-91 and 2001. Approximately 1.3 million workers, including 23,700 Wisconsinites, lost all unemployment benefits when Congress failed to act before the end of December.
The report also shows that since 2008, unemployment insurance has kept 11 million people out of poverty, including 620,000 children in 2012 alone. In addition, unemployment insurance has kept nearly 57,000 adults and over 13,000 children in Wisconsin out of poverty each year.
The report also highlights the larger economic impact of emergency unemployment assistance: If extended through 2014, these benefits would boost GDP by 0.2 percentage point and increase employment by roughly 200,000 jobs.
According to an Associated Press report on December 27, unemployment rates increased in most Wisconsin counties in November. The state Department of Workforce Development reported that rates increased in 53 of 72 counties between October and November. Unemployment also went up in 14 of the 32 largest Wisconsin cities.
In December, it was also reported that Wisconsin recently led the nation in new jobless claims. The U.S. Department of Labor reported on December 12, that 4,420 people in Wisconsin filed initial unemployment claims during the last week of November. That is more claims than the next two highest states combined: Ohio with 2,597 and Kentucky with 1,538.
In 2014, if Emergency Unemployment Compensation is not extended, some 41,800 additional Wisconsin workers looking for a job will exhaust their state-funded 26 weeks of unemployment benefits in the first half of 2014 and will be denied access to federal unemployment benefits. In addition, 99,000 Wisconsinites are projected to be affected this year if Emergency Unemployment Compensation is not extended.
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act would reinstate and continue federal support for unemployment insurance, effective January 1, 2014, for an additional three months, preventing the expiration of benefits for 1.3 million Americans. The legislation would effectively extend current unemployment insurance policy through March 31, 2014 including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, Extended Benefits Provisions, and Funding for Reemployment Services and Reemployment and Eligibility Assessments. The bill would allow all states to continue federal unemployment insurance without a lapse from January 1, 2014.