EDITORIAL: Congress must act to extend federal unemployment benefits
|By The Seattle Times|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
When people don't work, their health deteriorates. The demand for goods and services is reduced. Communities suffer.
One immediate fix is for
When lawmakers failed to renew the program, nearly 2 millionAmerican job-seekers were cut off from federal aid, including about 28,000 people in
Behind the numbers are individuals and families who are struggling. Read some of their stories on the opposite page to get an idea what they are up against.
On Thursday, after several failed efforts,
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the measure when they return from a weeklong recess. The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives should pass this breakthrough compromise.
At stake are billions in emergency assistance that recipients would spend in their communities as they continue to look for work.
Federal money is necessary because long-term unemployment, which peaked in 2010, remains high, especially in rural areas. Overall, the state reports about 195,000 people have used up all of their state and federal insurance. As of February, more than half were still unemployed.
A few hundred dollars a week helps recipients feed their families, keep the lights on and stay connected to the Internet so they can send out resumes and check job listings. The assistance also helps to offset stress and depression among those struggling to find work.
These Americans are up against myriad challenges and negative perceptions. Older workers suspect a disadvantage when they apply for positions that younger applicants can do for less pay. Some of their jobs have been eliminated. Many have college degrees, but not the specific skills required in today's job market.
Beyond short-term assistance, more clearly must be done to train
At the federal level, U.S. Sen.
Inslee points out that many of these workers, despite gaps in their resumes, contributed to the region's economic engine before the recession, and could be just as productive now.
But their struggles underscore the importance of also looking out for the state's future.
When these kids grow up, they should be well-qualified to fill thousands of anticipated job openings that will need highly-skilled workers. There should be no need for federal unemployment insurance.
This money was intended to be a last resort for struggling job-seekers. But the Great Recession wreaked such long-lasting havoc, millions of Americans need the financial salvation a while longer.
If lawmakers do their jobs right, federal unemployment benefits would be remembered as a temporary program that kept families on their feet in some of the hardest of times.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor
Enjoy 8 weeks of unlimited access to seattletimes.com for
(c)2014 The Seattle Times
Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services