Report: 1.2 Million Set to Lose Unemployment Benefits in June
Having unveiled their plan to extend unemployment benefits through the end of the year (not to be mistaken for a plan to create new benefits), Democrats will no doubt be racing to pass the measure before June 1, which marks the current deadline to file for the next tier of jobless benefits. Budget hawks, however, are already balking at the price tag, leaving the fate of the current package in question, particularly in the Senate.
Today, the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group, noted the consequences of congressional inaction, estimating that 1.2 million jobless Americans would exhaust their benefits in June alone if the deadline isn’t extended.
“Here we are, five days out from the Memorial Day recess, and Congress has yet to act on one of the most crucial pieces of legislation affecting the unemployed in 2010,” Christine Owens, NELP’s executive director, said in a statement Monday.
Under current law, unemployed folks have access to 26 weeks of state-sponsored insurance benefits before four separate tiers of emergency federal benefits kick in. Confusing the arrangement, recipients must exhaust their current benefits before filing for the next tier. Yet that option disappears at the end of May, when the filing deadline for all tiers arrives.
Complicating the timeline, Congress is scheduled to leave town at the end of this week for their Memorial Day recess, which puts them out of action until at least June 7. NELP estimates that 300,000 jobless folks will exhaust their UI benefits by June 12, the Friday after Congress returns.
Owens, for her part, thinks lawmakers should prioritize the UI extension legislation over their scheduled vacation.
“Unemployed Americans are pulling their hair out — and they are looking to Congress for help,” she said. “Even if it means staying in Washington as the Congressional recess approaches, the unemployment bill must move forward. Taking a break without extending the unemployment program will break faith with the millions of jobless workers Congress is leaving behind.”