As we noted on Labor Day, the share of California’s jobless workers who have been without work for at least six months is at its highest recorded level. Congress and the Legislature have both taken action at several points during the last 15 months to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for workers who can’t find a job. Still, more than 150,000 Californians are expected to run out of UI benefits by the end of the year.
Congress is considering another extension of UI benefits that would help these workers stay afloat while job-hunting. The House took the first step last Tuesday, passing the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (H.R. 3548). This proposal would maintain UI benefits for an additional 13 weeks for workers who have used all the benefits available under the state’s regular UI program – a maximum of 26 weeks – as well as the 53 weeks of extended benefits that have already been authorized.
The Senate is expected to consider this proposal in the coming weeks, and President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill. We agree that Californians desperately need this additional help.
— Vicky Lovell