US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin Praises White House, Principal Financial Group Commitment to Ensure Long-Term Unemployed Have a Fair Shot at Securing New Work

Friday, January 31, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised an effort from President Barack Obama to partner with private companies to develop the best practices for hiring and recruiting the long-term unemployed. According to the White House, more than 300 companies—including Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group—have signed on to this effort. Harkin commended Principal CEO Larry Zimpleman, who is a signatory to the best practices for hiring and recruiting the long-term unemployed, and will be attending a meeting at the White House to discuss efforts on this topic.

“Long-term unemployed Americans face extraordinary hurdles to reenter the workforce. They have already been pounding the pavement for at least six months in search of new work, and many of them are in dire straits financially.  It is absolutely critical that they find new employment so that they can support themselves and their families, and we must do more to ensure that these Americans have an opportunity to compete for and secure new employment. I commend the President for bringing attention to this issue, and I am proud that one of Iowa's business leaders, Principal's Larry Zimpleman, is helping lead the way on this important effort.

“While we redouble our efforts to ensure that all workers have a fair shot when applying for jobs, we cannot forget that 4,300 Iowans are among the 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans whose unemployment insurance benefits were cruelly cut off at the holidays, and that 30,000 more Iowans will face the same circumstances during this year. I will be continuing the fight to ensure that federal extended unemployment insurance, which these workers have earned and deserved, is restored as soon as possible.”

Harkin has helped lead efforts in the Senate to extend federal unemployment insurance, which is a partnership between the federal government and state governments that provides a temporary weekly benefit to qualified workers who lose their job and are seeking work. The amount of that benefit is based in part on a worker’s past earnings.  In Iowa, the average weekly UI benefit amount is $336. Iowa is among 43 states that offer 26 weeks of UI coverage, while seven states offer fewer weeks.

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