As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on unemployment extension legislation Monday, Senator Tammy Baldwin is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) that would address the fact that 23,700 Wisconsinites lost Emergency Unemployment Compensation when Congress failed to act before the end of December.
"Our nation's economy is moving forward but Wisconsin's economy continues to lag behind other states and far too many hard working people are still looking for a job. Wisconsin's economy can't afford the expiration of unemployment insurance because it will cost our economy jobs and slow growth," Baldwin said, "That is why it is critical that Congress takes action to continue federal support for unemployment insurance and provide a lifeline for Wisconsin families as they search for work in our recovering economy."
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 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 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.