Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 -- Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. (at large), issued the following news release:
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), because of her ongoing work to reduce the rate of long-term unemployment, today at 11:00 a.m. will attend a meeting with President Obama and senior White House officials regarding the challenge of long-term unemployment and partnerships to develop a skilled, competitive workforce.
"In light of our efforts for long-term unemployed D.C. residents and others, including my bill to offer an economy-boosting incentive for hiring the long-term unemployed, I am pleased that the President has invited me to the meeting," said Norton. "1.6 million Americans - and counting - have been left out in the cold by Republicans blocking an unemployment insurance extension, but they are not the only ones who will feel the pain - 240,000 other Americans, whose employment depends on the disposable income of the unemployed, stand to those their jobs. While we are working to revive the unemployment insurance program, I will be interested to see at the meeting what more can be done."
Norton noted that in the State of the Union address, the President emphasized that he would be using his administrative authority to accomplish goals, and she is interested to see if it comes up at the meeting.
Last month, just before the unemployment insurance program expired, Norton introduced a bill to offer employers a $5,000 tax credit against the payroll tax liability for each new net person hired who has been unemployed for 27 weeks. The $5,000 tax credit would encourage employers to look twice at the long-term unemployed.
Norton's guest for the State of the Union was 29-year-old District resident Mindy Hill, who lost unemployment insurance because Congress failed to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Hill joined Norton at a press conference before the State of the Union, where members and their guests urged Congress to revive the program. Hill is a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia, and like many young people in this city, has worked for government contractors. She has worked as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Norton said that employers, faced with a surplus of workers, have shown an unfair preference for hiring the most recently unemployed, consigning even young long-term unemployed workers to even longer term unemployment regardless of skill. Norton said that she was proud that the District in 2012 passed legislation prohibiting employment discrimination based on unemployment history, and that similar legislation is pending in a number of states.
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