Senate Approves Overdue Extension of Unemployment Benefits, But There’s Work Left To Be Done

Moments ago, Congress completed action on a long-overdue six-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits for the nation’s unemployed. This action will restore benefits to more than 555,000 Californians and prevent an estimated 63,100 of the state’s unemployed from losing desperately needed assistance each week. With the state’s economy showing continued signs of weakness – the number of nonfarm jobs dropped by 27,600 in June – there’s still unfinished work left on the Congressional agenda: providing much needed aid to states to help prevent additional layoffs from state and local budget cuts.

By extending economic aid to states, which will largely expire at the end of December, Congress can help keep the economy on the road to recovery. For California, Congressional inaction will widen the state’s already massive budget gap. Spending plans proposed by the Governor, as well as the Senate and Assembly majorities, all assume the state will receive $3.4 billion in federal funds – including $1.9 billion from the extension of an enhanced federal share of costs for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California, often referred to FMAP) – and continuation of the TANF Emergency Fund that has helped create thousands of jobs across California, putting families back to work and pumping dollars into cash-strapped local economies.

The extension of jobless benefits will have a significant impact on workers across California and the nation. Let’s hope that this good first step is a harbinger of additional action needed to keep the country on a steady path to recovery.

— Jean Ross

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