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Unemployment Benefits Extension Stalls in Senate

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 [3].

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 [4] is longer than the 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits.

The House of Representatives passed a bill last month (H.R. 3548 [5]) that would extend unemployment benefits in high-unemployment states by 13 weeks. The Senate is debating similar bills [6] (S. 1699 [7] 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 [8]. 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?