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Harkin: Job Growth is Encouraging, But We Must Still Act to Extend Vital Unemployment Insurance

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the November employment numbers, showing the unemployment rate dropped from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent in November, with more than 200,000 jobs added to the economy:

“Today’s jobs report is a welcome sign of an ever-improving economy.  Over 200,000 jobs were added in November alone, in industries across a wide variety of sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, business and professional services, and retail. The unemployment rate is now at its lowest level in five years.

“Despite these promising economic indicators, we must recognize that there are still millions of Americans—including tens of thousands of Iowans—who continue to struggle to find employment even after searching for new work for six months or more. That is why it is so critical that Congress act to extend the federal unemployment insurance program that provides basic support for these workers to keep food on the table, gas in the car, and a roof over their heads while they look for jobs.  If we do not take action, nearly five million jobseekers will be cut off from this lifeline by the end of next year. I am hopeful that we can act to extend federal UI before we head home for the holidays.”

In an effort to stabilize the economy and prevent 1.3 million Americans from having their federal jobless benefits cut off, 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 will provide relief for both states and struggling families by extending federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through 2014.

Failure to preserve UI will hurt 1.3 million Americans who will be cut off at the end of the year, and nearly another 3.6 million Americans will be denied access to the emergency program over the course of next year.  If Congress does not renew the law, then people who file for unemployment next year will only qualify for state benefits, which last a maximum of 26 weeks.  In Iowa, 35,500 jobseekers will be cut off of the program at the end of the year or will exhaust their state benefits next year.