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Unemployment Insurance

WHEREAS:

            Since the 1950s Congress has maintained a federal program of unemployment benefits to supplement the basic state unemployment benefits in every recession when jobs are scarce; and

WHEREAS:

            The current unemployment rate of 6.3 percent with 10 million workers unemployed is still higher than when the Great Recession began in December 2007 and is the highest level of unemployment on record at this stage in an economic recovery; and

WHEREAS:

            Long-term unemployment is twice as high today, as a share of the workforce, as it was in any other post-recession period, and Congress has never allowed the federal extended benefit program to expire when the percent of long-term unemployment was so high; and

WHEREAS:

            Ending the federal unemployment insurance program prematurely slows economic recovery; and

WHEREAS:

            With slack demand a major cause of the current anemic recovery, one of the most effective actions Congress can take to stimulate economic activity and job creation is to maintain federal unemployment benefits, which generate $1.55 in new economic activity for every $1 spent; and

WHEREAS:

            Unemployed workers need unemployment benefits for an effective job search.  The benefits enable them to maintain stability in their lives, provide the money necessary to look for employment, and keep them connected to reemployment services available from the workforce system; and

WHEREAS:

            The recent difficulty in extending the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program points to the failure of the current policy to ensure that the program performs its necessary function of helping to alleviate the economic distress of workers and their families and stimulate local economic activity.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME urges Congress to continue the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program until long-term unemployment returns to more normal levels; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME urges Congress to reform the permanent federal extended benefits program by establishing effective national and state unemployment rates to trigger the payment of unemployment benefit payments automatically and terminate them automatically when unemployment falls below these trigger rates.

SUBMITTED BY:
Michael Downey, President and Delegate
AFSCME Council 94
Rhode Island

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