Congress considering extending jobless benefits
February 11, 2011
The long-termed unemployed would receive an additional 14 weeks of benefits under a bill introduced in Congress this week. [CaliforniaWatch]
In California, there are more than 330,000 people who have exhausted the maximum 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, recently dubbed the “99ers.”
The bill, proposed by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., would extend jobless benefits for both the 99ers and those currently unemployed.
“Millions of workers across the nation, many of whom live in my district, are experiencing a true state of emergency. Our bill would ensure these long-term unemployed workers get the long overdue assistance they need to support their families, make ends meet and contribute to our economy,” Lee said in a statement.
A federal extension of unemployment insurance in 2009 suppressed the poverty rate and increased spending. The Employment Development Department said jobless Californians receive an average of $293 a week.
Federal unemployment insurance paid out nearly $160 billion in benefits last year, up from $120 billion in 2009. The proposed extension is estimated to cost $16 billion.
In California, the unemployment rate remains in double digits at 12.3 percent in December. San Luis Obispo County’s December unemployment rate of 9.7 percent was a slight improvement of November’s 9.8 percent rate.
More than 46 percent of the jobless in December had been out of work for 27 weeks or more, and more than 355,000 filed for unemployment insurance for the first time, said California Watch.