EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

February 16, 2014

Extend unemployment to put the 3rd District back to work

Hardworking people from right here in Massachusetts’ 3rd District, struggling to make ends meet while diligently seeking jobs, were dealt a serious blow at the end of last year. They, along with more than one million other Americans, lost their emergency unemployment insurance when Congress failed to extend the program.

There is a single mom from the 3rd District, laid off after 23 years with the same company, and her teenage daughter, who have cut their family’s household budget of all but the bare essentials, yet still worry about losing their home.

And there is a father struggling to find permanent employment who has taken temporary jobs wherever he could find them to ensure his two children could stay enrolled at their local colleges.

Both depended on unemployment insurance to ensure their family’s survival.

Across the country, the number of impacted Americans has risen to 1.7 million and, without Congressional renewal, will continue to grow.

There is no excuse for Congress’ failure to reauthorize this funding when there are still between two and three job-seekers for every job opening. America’s total number of long-term unemployed remains as high as it ever has been since World War II and includes all ages, industries and demographics. These men and women, many of whom lost their jobs during the recession through no fault of their own, have faced many obstacles that perpetuate unemployment, even as they doggedly pursue work. Studies have shown evidence of unemployment discrimination, with employers become leery of hiring the long-term unemployed. And the Urban Institute has even shown that when incomes drop, personal health and even children’s school work tends to falter.

Economists agree that this all has a negative impact on America’s economy, in the short term and in the long run. And there is very little evidence that shows canceling unemployment insurance helps people find jobs.

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