Nearly 2 million Americans, including 83,000 Pennsylvanians, are set to lose their extended weekly unemployment benefits starting tomorrow, December 1st. That's because Congress has not reauthorized the program that extends the benefits for many jobless up to 99 weeks.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania says reauthorizing the emergency benefits is the right thing to do "to help people get from here to there...meaning a point in their lives where they're jobless to a point where they're back to work. These are folks who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and just need a little help to get over that bridge."
However, there is also no vote scheduled in either the House or Senate. Casey says he and 28 other Senators have circulated a letter calling for a unanimous consent resolution on the floor late this afternoon that calls for a vote on the extension. But if a Senator stands up on the floor and says "no," then the resolution asking for a vote is defeated..."then we have to think of another way to get it done."
Casey says in addition to helping the jobless, there is a bang for the buck even though the cost would add to the deficit........."Goldman Sachs has said expiration of these benefits will cause economic growth to fail by one half of a percentage point...that's a big number. The Economic Policy Institute says extending the benefits would increase the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 7 tenths of a percentage point...that's also a bit number in the context of keeping the recovery moving in the right direction."
Casey rejects suggestions by critics of the program that extending benefits discourages people from looking for work.
Unless Congress acts quickly, beginning tomorrow, people who apply for the first time can expect a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits, while many of those receiving them now will lose them before the 99 weeks are up.