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

Harkin: Jobs Report Underscores Continued Urgency of Renewing Federal Unemployment Insurance

Friday, April 04, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the March employment numbers. 

“The jobs report today shows yet another month of job growth, with 192,000 jobs added to the economy in March. While these figures are encouraging, we know that there remain nearly 4 million workers who have been searching for a new job for at least six months.

“Congress has an opportunity in the coming days to pass a bipartisan extension of federal unemployment insurance that will help 2.8 million Americans—including 19,000 Iowans— make ends meet while they look for new employment. We must do what is right and extend UI so that workers who have played by the rules and lost their jobs through no fault of their own can get the help they and their families need to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table while they search for new work.”

In an effort to stabilize the economy and prevent millions of Americans from having their federal jobless benefits cut off, last year Harkin joined Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to introduce the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extension Act of 2013. This bill would provide relief for both states and struggling families by extending federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through 2014. Harkin has also supported other efforts to extend unemployment insurance, including the bipartisan Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extension Act of 2014, currently under consideration in the Senate, which will extend unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed retroactively from January through May 2014. 

Continued inaction to restore UI is hurting millions of Americans who have been cut off from the emergency program.  Already, 2.3 million workers, including more than 14,000 Iowans, have been cut off from UI either because they were participating in the program when it expired at the end of 2013 or because they have exhausted their state’s benefits since then and have had no federal program to which to turn. If Congress does not renew the law, a total of nearly 5 million jobseekers will lose access to unemployment insurance by the end of the year.

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