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  Comments (2) Total Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
Jobless Must Be Lifted Up, Not Dropped Off
Guest Column
In a country where the average CEO makes 354 times what the average worker makes, where we bail out banks, industries, governments, and we allow multi-billion dollar corporations to generate profits and store them in off-shore accounts so they don’t have to pay their fair share of taxes in America, surely we can provide the average working person a few bucks a week for food and heat until they can get back on their feet, or maybe complete some job re-training.

More than 1 million jobless workers were deserted by lawmakers who went home for their own holidays without extending the federal unemployment benefits program that expired Dec. 28. If this is not corrected, more than 3 million more people who would have qualified for extended benefits will be denied.

With our economy still trying to recover from the Great Recession, 37 percent of jobless workers have not been able to find work for more than six months. The average duration of unemployment is 37 weeks – that’s just over nine months. Unemployment insurance serves as a lifeline for millions of jobless Americans, their families and the communities they live in.

In today’s economy, nearly three workers apply for each job opening. Numerous studies have shown employers frequently discriminate against the long-term unemployed, leaving far too many Montanans out in the cold. For the families of these job seekers, unemployment benefits represent the difference between total hopelessness and a place to live and food on the table.

It’s not a willingness-to-work problem; it’s a job availability crisis.

What many don’t realize is that for thousands of workers, unemployment insurance creates the opportunity to attend training programs to acquire skills that open up job opportunities that help them maintain or increase their family income. Failure to extend the unemployment benefits program puts families who have been hit the hardest by the great recession and jobs crisis at risk of bankruptcy, foreclosure and dire poverty.

By not extending unemployment benefits we are robbing businesses and service providers of customers to the tune of $532,409 in Montana in just one week, and costing more than 240,000 jobs across the country – 295 of which are Montana jobs supporting Montana families. As the year goes on, the consequences will be even worse when benefits for 3.6 million Americans are scheduled to expire.

All of these reasons are why the Congressional Budget Office considers unemployment benefits to be one of the most important and effective economic stimulus programs. Unlike multi-millionaires who receive a tax cut, jobless workers go out and spend that money in the local economy.

Montana working families thank Senators Baucus and Tester for supporting extended unemployment benefits and we call on Congressman Daines to show the same compassion, economic vision, and political leadership.
We cannot afford to leave working families behind.

Rich Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO and Al Ekblad is executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO.
On 01-26-14, Gators commented....
Their are jobs out there, but maybe not the ones you want.  I think 99 weeks the first time was 80 weeks too many.  Programs abused like this one is killing the country.  BTW…how many paid attention in High School?  Not Many. Look in the mirror…
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