Unemployment Insurance Extension
February 26, 2014
The U.S. Senate recently failed to extend unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed by a single vote. This means more than two million long-term unemployed Americans have lost federal unemployment benefits since Congress allowed it to expire on December 28, 2013. Another 72,000 individuals are losing access each week to federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) extensions as their regular state jobless aid runs out.
Another vote is scheduled to take place in the Senate as soon as next Tuesday, March 4 for cloture (requiring 60 votes) on a significant compromise bill – a fully paid-for 3-month retroactive renewal of the EUC program.
Once again, advocates in Illinois are targeting Senator Mark Kirk as he was one of many Senators who voted against the expansion and many believe that he is the Senator most likely to switch his vote. Here’s what you can do to urge Senator Kirk, and members of the Illinois delegation, to renew unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed:
Call and Write to your Members of Congress
Members of Congress need to hear from you. In Illinois, residents are encouraged to contact Senator Mark Kirk and urge him to support extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. He can be reached at:
- Senator Kirk’s Washington DC Office: (202) 224-2854
- Senator Kirk’s Chicago Office: (312) 886-3506
- Senator Kirk’s Springfield Office: (217) 492-5089
Here are some additional talking points you can use (courtesy of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law):
- Illinois’ unemployment rate is 8.6%, 30% higher than the national average of 6.6%.
- As a result of Congress’ failure to extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), 230,000 Illinoisans will have their unemployment benefits terminated in 2014.
- The people who receive EUC are not slackers; they are victims of the slow recovery from the Great Recession. There is still only 1 job for every 3 jobseekers.
- The long-term unemployment rate is 2.3% nationally. Congress has never before let EUC expire when long-term unemployment exceeded 1.3%.
- Ending EUC damages the economy since jobless benefits go to people who will spend the funds quickly and generate the consumer spending we need to drive recovery, growth and job creation.
If you live outside of Illinois, there’s a toll-free number (877-363-6141) set up for the campaign by AFSCME, which anyone can use. When the line answers, the caller just inputs his or her zip-code and chooses which Senate office to be connected to.
You can also write to your Members of Congress to re-authorize federal unemployment benefits by clicking here.
For those with active Twitter accounts, be sure to use the #RenewUI hashtag when communicating about unemployment insurance expansion. In Illinois, advocates are targeting Senator Mark Kirk. Click here for the latest figures on the amount of workers harmed by the loss of federal jobless benefits through March 1, 2014. In Illinois, 112,710 workers will be denied benefits by March 1st.
To see if your Member of Congress is on Twitter, click here for a list of verified Congressional Twitter accounts.
Generate State/Local Press
Please continue to do all you can to generate state and local press (i.e. letters to the editor, op-eds, press releases) highlighting the devastating impact on families and the economy on the failure to immediately reauthorize the program. Below are some helpful resources that include a wide range of facts and figures to assist you:
- Issue Brief – Tackling the Long Term Unemployment Crisis
- Costs to the Economy for Failing to Extend Unemployment Insurance (Jan. & Feb.)
- State-by-state breakdown of 72,000 additional Americans to lose unemployment insurance each week
- County-by-county number of people losing coverage for select states
- Workers cut-off by state and the 2013/2014 economic impact
- State reductions in numbers collecting jobless benefits
- Poll results from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and Hart Research Associates showing a clear majority of Americans support maintaining federal jobless aid for the long-term unemployed (click here for the press release from NELP regarding the poll)
If you have any questions, please contact Andrés Moreno, Communications Coordinator at the Chicago Jobs Council, at firstname.lastname@example.org.