Unemployment Benefits Extension Stalls in Senate

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Update Oct. 18: The Senate has come to the decision to modify the House bill to include all states, not just ones with unemployment rates greater than 8.5%. The change will come in the form of S. Amndt. 2668 to the House Bill, H.R. 3548 according to Open Congress blogger Donny Shaw.

In normal times, unemployment benefits last twenty-six weeks after someone loses their job. In normal times, it takes newly unemployed people less than 26 weeks to find a job… until today. But we aren’t in normal times. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the first time since 1948, when they started collecting this information, that the average time it takes to find a job is longer than the 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits.

The House of Representatives passed a bill last month (H.R. 3548) that would extend unemployment benefits in high-unemployment states by 13 weeks. The Senate is debating similar bills (S. 1699 was referred to committee) and the fight is over who gets benefits and how much.

S. 1699 would give an extra 13 weeks to states with unemployment rates higher than 8.5% funded by extending unemployment tax on employers.

These last few months emphasize how important it is to have an emergency fund. Standard unemployment benefits offer six months of income, if everyone had a six month emergency fund then it would matter less if the average time to find a job was longer than 26 weeks. People would still have money saved to pay for things.

Should we be taxing employers and giving the money to people without jobs? I’m not against helping people who are in trouble, we all should try to look out for each other, but this may be the wrong way to go about it. I think that companies they need to pay extra for the people they already hire, they probably will be hiring less. Fewer new jobs means longer employment periods and higher rates. Is this the right direction anyway?

{ 90 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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90 Responses to “Unemployment Benefits Extension Stalls in Senate”

  1. Sure, they all have a high-paying job, so what’s the rush!

    • Jim says:

      Well, their constituents don’t… so the rush is if they fail to do something for their own voters, they won’t have a high paying job next election. 🙂

      • zapeta says:

        Please, people keep sending the same crooks back to Washington year after year. I’m guessing most of the people who could benefit from extended unemployment have a lot of other things to worry about right now than if their senator/representative voted for additional benefits.

      • Terri says:

        Call Senator Durbin or Senator Burris’s office and ask them.

  2. The aspect that would give extra time to states with higher unemployment rates seems a bit odd. I think there might be a misunderstanding of correlation and causation.

    Let’s pick on Michigan, for example. Much of the reason for their high unemployment rate is due to the downturn in the auto industry. Folks employed in the auto industries in other states are also affected; the problem is simply magnified in Michigan due to the percentage of jobs tied to the industry.

    Why, then, would we give an extra 17 weeks to the auto worker in Michigan, but not to the auto worker in Idaho (just throwing out a random state).

    To take it a step further, why would we extend benefits to a Michigan resident in an industry with a relatively short average job seek time, while denying the same extension to the Idaho worker in an industry with a long average seek time.

    This could be even more quirky for people who live near the borders of states. They might live 10 miles apart, get laid off from the same exact job, and get unemployment for differing time spans.

    Should we extend benefits? I don’t know. Luckily, I’ve never been unemployed. However, doing it on a state by state basis seems odd.

    (Yes, I’ll admit that there is a spillover effect – laid off auto workers in Michigan cause unemployment in other industries as a result)

    • WOW says:

      You should donate some of your hard earned money to people who possibly have medical bills, live in poverty, adopted children, kids who have lost their parents and friends of the family take them in, people who oddly enough get into continious car accidents, oh foreclosures (Faulty Bank Lenders), people who took risk based completely all off of faith. I mean understandable if you’ve never been unemployed you wouldn’t know, yet even then be in favor for those of whom who are just like you guys (Humans). Go into the public and instead of sheltering yourselves from who you think deserves what you think is deserved go out and observe! Be apart of the change! Stay positive for others not for your own sake but for the sake of being concerned. No one Judges apropriatly not even the judicial courts.. ONLY the Almighty.. So take your foots out your mouths and be pro instead of anti.. If its bad its bad but when it helps then let it be no matter the industry people lay in. Who really knew this would happen unless someone was with holding something that shouldve been voiced years ago to prevent such a monstrousity..

  3. Barry says:

    Again as always, politicians completely disconnected from the struggles and hardships of the common/average US citizen. None of them will be laid off I’m sure. Nice.

  4. I’m honestly wondering after going in a two day business, and seeing restaurants, planes, security lines absolutely PACKED…… is the government exagerrating the # of unemployed people out there?

    Quick survey, do you know anybody who has recently been laid off over the past couple months?

    Don’t think the stock market cares, b/c according to the market, things are just fine.

    • Mark says:

      Underestimate? Are you serious?
      They only count those on the unemployment benefits. They don’t track those that have come off benefits with or without a job.

      “U-6” is the closest to being accurate, and it says that we are over 16%.

    • daemondust says:

      Just because you, personally, don’t know someone who’s been laid off recently doesn’t mean it isn’t happening to a ton of people. You might not even know someone’s been laid off if they’re too ashamed to admit it.

      • Jim says:

        This happens more than you would think, just the other day I read a story about a guy who was laid off, kept “going to work,” and would instead go to the library to hunt for jobs. On one hand, it’s good that he maintained a routine but it’s bad that he didn’t tell his wife.

        • daemondust says:

          Foolish pride gets in the way more often than, I think, any of us want to admit. If I were laid off I probably would do about the same thing. I would, of course, tell my fiancée, but unless asked directly, I doubt I would tell many friends or neighbors.

          Fortunately for me, we’re hiring (and having trouble finding qualified people) so I’m not likely to be in that situation any time soon.

        • pobrokmoma says:

          I have been laid off for over a year and my son still doesn’t know. I go clean houses for anyone who will let me work. This is all I can do to pay my utilities and rent. I have had to cancel cable and all the other things that are not essential but I kept the enternet because I have online classes. I am imbarrassed that I had to get food stamps to feed my son (which he doesn’t know either). I had a fat saving account that is gone now. I havn’t gone to movies or eaten out in over a year and I know that my son suspects something is up. I hope that when I finish my BS degree in the spring the economy has improved so I can find a job that has more security than my last.

    • CS says:

      No unemployment numbers are NOT exaggerated, numbers are pulled from unemployment benefits filed, unemployed numbers to workforce numbers, and the US BLS.

      I’m thinking the numbers may be even higher since there are unemployed people who may for some reason not qualify for unemployment.

      • daemondust says:

        It’s more that they’re re-defined until we get them sufficiently low to not cause a (media) panic.

    • Bill says:

      I’ll take your job..just tell when to start and the dress code. You can have my unemployment check,which is going to end soon. How about it?

    • Cuttie says:

      Are you kidding me? Exaggerated? I live in Nevada..which has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation..right behind Michigan. I was laid off last niece..five friends..and a brother-in-law..are all also unemployed at the time that I leave this reply. Never in my 40 years have I personally known so many people without if anything I think the numbers and percentages are conservative! Isn’t nice that the “recession” is OVER?? OVER MY A##.

    • Rick says:

      If anything I believe the government underestimates the number of unemployed. Their estimates are based on the number of new unemployment claims every month. This does not include people who do not qualify for unemployment. Small business owners and part-time workers who have lost their income are not included in their estimates. I know a teacher who lost her job of 16 years and was told because she only worked nine months a year, she did not qualify for unemployment! I did a quick mental count and I know 28 people who have lost jobs in the last few months. most are still unemployed. The remainder have had to take jobs with considerably less income. I agree that the media,Wall Street and Washington are trying to paint a positive picture. I just see it a more lies and manipulation that led to this mess in the first place.

    • johnhjn says:

      i been unemployed for one year and two months

  5. Barb says:

    Please stop with this ridiculousness!!! The same people laughing and snickering without an ounce of empathy for unemploye WORKERS, will be the same people crying for help real soon. Karma is a b…………..
    People are losing their homes, getting evicted, lights are going out and can’t feed their children or pets. This is a real crisis!! If they tax the employers maybe they will stop laying off people. These people have helped the nation grow with decades of work on their individual behalfs and as teams with organizations. They want jobs not hand outs, but until jobs are available they have to live. In addition, they have payed into the pot so to speak for many years theirselves so why not help them in their hour of need. Otherwise, step down and let them fill your positions. The nerve of some people…only confirms why we are in this crisis. Everyone, is looking out for themselves and no one else. Geesh, cash for clunkers??? If people can buy cars in this economy than they are not suffering. Try not eating for a few days or sending your kids to school without breakfast. Can you really laugh at a time like this? Will you really enjoy the holidays knowing that this many people are suffering right here in America?

    • Rach says:

      Thank you, not all of us want hand outs! But such as you said there is simply no jobs!
      And I spoke to two diffrent Walmart employees (which Walmart is spose to be doing fine.) and there not even working full time here in Michigan. Which humm the lowest rent I’ve found is 500 a month and thats in a trailer park (lot rent), and part time prolly wouldn’t cover rent…
      My unemployment checks ran out 3 almost 4 months ago, and when I was working I never looked down on others that were in hardship, I did my best to help out if I could.
      And yes I belive in carma it might not be today or tomarrow but it will happen.
      And yes out of every 10 people 7-8 are out of work.

    • johnhjn says:

      true that i been unemployed for one year and two months and it running out ill prob be homeless soon

  6. “If they tax the employers maybe they will stop laying off people.”

    They already do. It’s called FUTA, and it’s based on a company’s payroll.

    For the record, I’m not opposed to an extension per se, but to extending some states and not others. A person’s state is probably not THE most accurate predictor of how long a person will be without a job. It’s a solid predictor, but others are likely better.

    I definitely have sympathy for people who are unable to find work.

  7. Lord says:

    Some states don’t want to extend benefits since their employers will have to pay for it. There isn’t that much correlation between states and unemployment though. The natural thing to do is to extend it to any state that wants it extended. The employers in that state pay for it, but only over the entire business cycle, so it is not much disincentive to hiring. People that get jobs quickly won’t use the extension anyway, unemployment is not that generous.

    • Rach says:

      Many companies have closed their doors, therefore no longer in business so how would you tax them?

  8. Estella says:

    This is true they are only tracking those on unemployment but a lot of people don’t qualify like people who work for cash and people who own their own businesses there are a lot more people out here starving and without incomes there are not enough jobs to go around, and what are people going to do soup lines are full what kind of country do we live in when Katrina victims still can’t get the help they need our government is concerned only with the mighty dollar that’s going in their pockets.

  9. Michael says:

    If the point of your last paragraph was that employers will delay new hires if they are still being taxed for their former employees then I think that would be the argument from the companies and owners. However, I believe that if they have the work, then they will hire new employees once the existing can no longer handle the workload. I also believe that the behavior of many companies fully warrants a tax to pay for their former employees. The partners at both firms where I worked over the last 12 years have such an immense cushion from their business strategies that, after laying off 40% or more of their workers, they take off for extended stays at their vacation houses leaving skeleton crews to hold down the fort. Another situation saw massive layoffs in progress and partners still reaping bonuses in the millions as if nothing was happening. All owners deserve to reap the rewards from their business ventures but the toll I have witnesses on employees from extreme stress, eighty hour work weeks, vacation time vaporizing into thin air on 12/31, no comp or overtime pay and working every day for months without a day off makes me believe that they can more than afford those unemployment taxes for many months to come. Of course we can expect to see grand displays of righteous indignation from these individuals when the very idea of taxation arises but they’ve made their $50,000 Hästens beds (yes, it’s true) and in them they shall sleep.

  10. Revanche says:

    To answer Financial Samurai, yes, there are actually quite a lot of people who are unemployed. My local library is buzzing everyday with people using their resources to job-hunt, and I’ve been actively searching, applying and interviewing for jobs since June 08, but no one is hiring. Or I should say: the industries that are hiring require specialized skills and not many of the unemployed fill those specific needs.

    I suppose it should be easy to make up my mind on this issue as I’m in a high unemployment state, and have been unemployed since the end of this June, but I often wonder where that money is supposed to come from. Certainly it would help if I were to continue to receive benefits for several more weeks if I still haven’t found a job by the end of the year, but the long-term consequences do concern me.

  11. Leslie says:

    Your kidding right Samurai? I mean, truly you havent based your opinion on what you saw and just the recent Dow rates? Sure the signs of recovery are slowly showing, and it starts with the stock market (this is economy 101). It doesnt happen overnite and your opinion actually frightens me. Im sure, after further investigating, you may have a completely different opinion. Employers pay approximately $15 per employee per year or 2x yr. (not confirmed). It is not an individual tax payer that pays for unemployed workers, its insurance, that is what INSURANCE is for. Are there people that take advantage of the system? Welfare etc.. YES. There are those that have made a career of it. HOWEVER… for those of us laid off and are unable to find a job, and have house payments, kids in college, bills to pay. To hear “your overqualified” “we cant take a risk at hiring you because you will leave when you find better” (even though I agreed to sign a contract!! “this just wont be enough for you” (even though I insisted) its not easy. There are at least 100 or more people that apply for the jobs, I’ve created several different resumes to niche markets and still, not much activity. I have been on recent interviews (good sign) and hope that one of these will prove successful, in the meantime.. may lose the house, and no, Im not announcing it to neighbors, I will, however, go into my 401K and pay the penalities and taxes… extending the unemployment is the right thing to do for all states. For the person who wrote they’re company is hiring, how about posting the job and describing what/who you are looking for… there may be qualified candidates here. People, should help people, thats a good start, rather than pointing fingers. This is the first time in my life iv’e been unemployed, and i’ve been unemployed for several months, i’ve always worked and i’ve always “gotten” the job.. its truly frightening and un nearving. I will also add, that I’ve become quite bitter against the far right “fatty’s” that are so arrogant and oblivious to what is happening in they’re own back yard they feel fat dumb and happy enough to put a hold on things.. because they can, without a care, what is happening. They’ll get a huge clue, when they’re up for re-election.. huge. Talk about showing true colors..

  12. Jo says:

    I was employed for 28 years with a company. New company came in and downsized. Yeah right they downsized they got rid of people and then hired new people for less money. Put me and other people on the unemployment line. Let them pay for the unemployment. If they can get rid of people and hire new ones then make them know they are not getting away with it any cheaper.

  13. Leslie says:

    The state was on holiday yesterday, as was the Senate.. but the bill collectors, and auto deposits were delayed ie’ my final unemployment check… so? $30 in insufficient funds this AM,(which,today feels like 100) bank said sorry, they cant do a thing there are too many they are receiving from people, this… was my first. No difference, treated the same as everyone else… okay.. I understand they need to stick to the rules, I understand that a holiday may delay an auto deposit and I just have to deal with it. The Senate? it seems don’t understand this is what its like every day for those that are no longer receiving benefits or about to…life goes on for the rest of us and they put it on hold without a care for cause and effect. Cash for clunkers goes through without a hitch… hello? Who can afford to buy a new car? I just dont understand it but remain hopeful. Write letters, get involved and don’t be an armchair critic. Ive sent several and my heart and prayers go to all those who are worse off than me and my family. No word yet on a second interview this week,send good energy my way please!!!

  14. another1gone says:

    Title: To amend the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 to provide for the temporary availability of certain additional emergency unemployment compensation, and for other purposes.
    Sponsor: Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] (introduced 9/10/2009) Cosponsors (49)
    Related Bills: H.R.3404, S.1647
    Latest Major Action: 10/13/2009 Read the second time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 174.

    So as of yesterday, this has been tabled once again.

    Hundreds of thousands of unemployed have seen the last of their lifeline UI checks last month, and upwards of a million more by the end of the year. A local factory is shutting down indefinitely the first of November and another 1000 workers(in addition to the 12,000 locals out of work already) will be in competition for each and every job I’m applying to right now. I’ve been out of work for just over a year. I was in a field that is all but extinct. Trying to cross over into another industry or career field in my mid 40’s nearly impossible.

  15. just a comment says:

    FYI, there are MANY people left out in the cold with the current unemployment system(s) and MANY Un/Under/Self Employed that are not taken into consideration. I also lost my job in June 08 ($75k) and attempted to sell time share instead of going to unemployment. (No wage, just commission) Not the definition of Suitable or within my field, according to statute. However after 3 months of almost zero income, I left. I was disqulaified for UE and treated like a criminal. Their disqulaification and appeals process took over 4 months. I tried a week at a time to get weeks of any work that would help alleviate this disqualification. I finally just got it lifted- JUST NOW!. Now I have a new claim and since I’ve made much less money this year my state only pays me 14 weeks. Well guess what, mine will run out right after the expiration date of the whole freaking program. Not many can imagine what the past 18 months has been like in these shoes. So yes I do understand. All I have to say is they better extend the expiration date or I’ll be F***** again by the whole system. Explain to me why people collect benefits for 2 years, and someone recently collecting is expected to find work in 14 weeks around the holdays in the second highest unemployment state (and yes, by the way, the rate of unemployment is the best indicator as to how quickly someone can find work) SO MUCH FOR THE EFFORTS TO “MODERNIZE” THE UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM. They talk about a standard 26 weeks, but yet they can’t even give that in their extensions. It’s 13 weeks, or half of the original claim. Some people are a LOT more fortunate than they think they’ve been. Let’s spread it around to people who need it, there’s others of us too. Sorry time to take that $9.00/ hour job. Not too fair.

  16. @ Revanche and Leslie – I didn’t mean to come across as callous, instead I’m incredulous at how the stats the government shows us is different from what I saw in Denver, San Diego, an LA on my recent business trip. It’s mind boggling how packed everything is, and how much people are spending again.

    I live in California, one of the high unemployment tax states. The Bay Area has 12% unemployment. I guess I’m just blind, or everybody’s very good at hiding.

    I truly believe that the employment picture will improve in 2010. The stock market is a leading indicator, and expectations for corporate profits are 30%+ for 2010. Corporates will be hiring again, so stay strong!


  17. And for the record, I am absolutely FOR extending the unemployment benefits. A ton of people lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It is just a numbers came for a lot of managers when they have to go through headcount reduction, and many times it’s nothing personal.

    We pay into the unemployment tax system, we better get the rewards when we need it most!

  18. TJ says:

    Emma, S.1699 is dead in committee. The only bill to be considered at this time by the Senate is HR3548.

    The tax the Democrats are suggesting as a means to pay for the extended benefits, equates to $14.00 per employee. It is the same tax that has been paid for 30 years and is due to expire at the end of this year. The Democrats have suggested extending it 2 1/2 years to cover the cost of extending benefits. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is hardly a burden.

    According to the US Census bureau, the average American company has fewer than 100 employees. Thats a tax that on average amounts to less than $1400 a YEAR for a company. A person who earns $8/hr or minimum wage in CA and works 40 hrs/week, takes home $16,640.00 a year or the equivalent of 1,188 of the $14.00 employee taxes. Do you honestly think that someone would be unwilling to hire based on a tax they have been paying for 30 years? Would you prefer that the companies loss money due to lack of customers, credit defaults or lawsuits challenging their termination? I think most employers understand this is not a tax increase. I further believe they understand that what they pay out comes back to them in the form of business. For every 1.00 of unemployment benefits, $2.15 goes back into the economy.

    Emma please do some homework before you feed into the rhetoric.

  19. Carl says:

    First of all, S.1699 is not dead??? They are deciding where funding is coming from and voting this week.

    Also, these extensuions have no impact whatsoever ont he states right now. They are 100% federally funded. Anyone who received The EB extension or this new once coming, is getting checks directly funded by the Feds. There isa no state involvement except to verify the eligability of the person collecting.

  20. screwed in michigan says:

    I live in Michigan, and in August we had the worst unemployment rate in the country at 15.2%. I was laid off like thousands others when DHL dropped domestic operations and went from 400 bases around the country to 100. I had worked for the company since high school, 14 years. I never thought I would have to think of finding another job. Now at 36, a year of community college under my belt and a family to boot, My family would be on the street if it wasn’t for the unemployment money I am receiving. It’s rough spending 14 years working 70+ hours a week to go to anxiety over not having skill sets or a viable resume for new employment.

    The people without empathy will wake up at some point with their head on the concrete wondering what happened to their solid job they’ve had. My father in law spent 8 of the last 10 months criticizing me until HE got laid off of his job of 30 years 2 months ago, and now he is eating crow. We can give the banks hundreds of billions of dollars to make up for their bad business practices and it’s considered bad government to lend a hand to the working class who paved the roads and built the houses and moved the merchandise? I’m not asking for a bail out, I’m just asking not to lose everything, and a little more time and $$ to get through is a good thing for millions of us. I only hope you people who are looking down your noses don’t have to go through such a complete disruption and degradation of self worth I and countless others have gone through.

  21. Screwed in Michigan – I feel for you. I can’t believe your father in law would criticize YOU for losing your job. That’s baloney. So many people lost jobs through no fault of their own, and for the government to extend the jobless benefits is THE LEAST they can do!

    Stand strong brother!

  22. broken says:

    i have been working full time since i was 18, part time since 14, this is the first time in my life ive been on unemployment. my benefits ran out 2 wks ago, just wks before my sons b-day. i went from $1100 a week as a retail manager to $340 a week. i lost my car, 2 apartments, im in debt, and cant really provide the needs and wants of my 2 kids. now the senate stalls on this? its the wrong season for this. its cold here in maine, i need oil, gas and warm cloths for my kids. the senators dont care, its not their family coming undone, their kids asking if there will be christmas, not their car being re-poed. its a joke, really. when will these people work for us? i’d like to see how quickly they would act if it was them and their families facing these problems.

  23. Erin K says:

    People collecting unemployment when they can for as long as they can is beneficial to all. meanwhile those working might hold their jobs longer,..then when they have enough time established to collect,.businesses can rollover employees. Laying off those who whould be able to start a new claim so those who have or will be exhusting theirs might be then employed while those who have been working can collect. Until job availabilty increases,.it would be a smart and beneficial manuvering of people.

  24. Richard says:

    More than 7,000 people across the country are losing their unemployment benefits every single day because Republicans are playing politics. Hardworking, middle class families, who are already cutting coupons and squeezing pennies to make ends meet, are now going to have the last strand of the safety net pulled right out from under them, simply because Republicans are obstructing progress.

    • givenuplooking says:

      the repubs have no problems handing 700 million bucks to banks without ever seeing or asking what they did with it but when it comes to people that simply need to keep the lights on screw em or healthcare…screwem…or simply a deicent livable wage….screw em this all started under republican watch i dont care what anyone says its almost apears to be done on purpose in some cases so when it comes time for a new prez,senator,republican governer,city councel member,even on down to the mayor if he is a republican…….screw em they wont get my vote

      god bless my brothers and countrymen and women we are all in this together screw the united corporation of america an lets get back to some family values and stop with the greed and be a happy healthy nation of one again creatitvity,education,family,community,love,compassion,integrity,ethics are the things that matter in life not money basically everything that all of our leaders lack

  25. VoteAll Congress Out says:

    Congress had taxpayers bail the financial system out. The crooked (too big to fail). The unemployed at this time will have to be bailed out for some time. When Congressmen think thir political lives are in jeopardy they do things fast.Hold them accountable. Vote them out of office.Unemployment is a right.The funds come from us.Its not begging. Why should the big 3 auto makers get help? let them go bankrupt. That is why the bankruptcy system is there. Same with the banks and so forth. Bail out banks with our money just to see them turn around and repossess our houses because of fraudulent activity on their part. What dream world does everyonelive in. Also,is the USA the world police? Well, charge a protection fee. For all that common people give there is no reward. People like Bernie should be forced to work for charity and stripped of all possessions, made to do humiliating things … to suffer like those he stole from. Every problem can be traced right back to our government’s screw ups and poor policies. Our government trained the Taliban and then dumped fighters to die at Russia’s hands. We are getting the what goes around comes around. Republicans are mainly to blame.

    • givenuplooking says:

      exactly,what they would pay in ui benefits is peanuts compared to what theyve paid to bail out big businesses and execs salaries,for what they have spent they could have cut every taxpayer in america a 50000 dollar check

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