While it is good news that the Senate seems ready to reinstate the federal unemployment extensions, and millions of unemployed workers will again be receiving benefits, much work remains to be done. Until there are enough jobs here in the United States for all of those people who want and need to work, all of us need to keep pushing our lawmakers for jobs creation.
Watching MSNBC, CNBC, and CNN this morning, one fact keeps coming out. Apparently, there is still a surplus of stimulus money available, which begs the big question: why aren’t our government leaders putting that money into creating jobs? (Better yet, why can’t we raise some additional stimulus money by adding some additional tariffs on imports? That would help to reduce imports while at the same time, put people here back to work manufacturing those items.)
Never in most of our lives has the economy been in such sorry shape. This article comparing the current situation to the Great Depression by US News and World Report has some interesting facts about the U-6 unemployment rates, currently figured at 17.1% which tracks discouraged workers, but not those who are under-employed or hidden, like recent college or high school graduates. CNBC reported this morning that unemployment for June fell in 39 states, but only because people have given up looking for work.
The vote this afternoon should go smoothly, and unemployment checks should once again start getting to those long-term unemployed who need them. Contrary to some of the negative media portrayals, a great majority of those people would much rather have a JOB. I don’t know of anyone currently collecting unemployment who would rather sit at home than work and build security for their family.
Another extremely important issue for the unemployed is medical insurance. When someone loses their job, they are eligible for Cobra coverage, but it averages over $1,000. The Cobra subsidies previously covered 65% of that for up to 15 months, but that provision expired and those who have become unemployed after June 1st are not eligible.
Making the labor market stronger needs to be a priority for Senate and House leaders, and they need to strengthen it without the ‘flexibility’ that is often bantered about: reducing the power of unions and negating the minimum wage, both of which are essential to keeping wages and workplace treatment fair for workers.
Imagine how scary it must be for families who have no idea, literally, where their next meal will come from, and how they will pay their rent or mortgage payment. These people cannot even begin to consider how to pay utilities, car payments, insurance, and other bills until those primary needs are met. Until the economy bounces back enough to lower the unemployment rate, our government needs to keep the lifeline out there for these displaced workers. All over TV, print media, and the internet, it is being reported that the federal government has never cut off extended benefits when the unemployment rate was higher than 7%. With 15 million people unemployed (an extremely conservative number,) it is vital to help OUR CITIZENS!