Unemployment benefits extended - Sen. LeMieux holds job fairs
The Credit ReportWhile 484,000 Americans filed their initial unemployment claims last week, Congress on Thursday passed H.R. 4851, the Continuing Extension Act of 2010, an emergency measure extending unemployment compensation benefits for those already receiving federal stimulus dollars. As expected, President Obama signed the bill.
Published: April 18, 2010
Published: April 18, 2010
The numbers are a jump of approximately 24,000 over the previous week and the highest level in almost two months, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The closely watched four-week "moving average" also edged up to 457,750, its highest level in recent months. This is the second time since the recession began that the average moved below 450,000 only to rise above that level again.
Passed in the Senate by a vote of 59-38, the emergency bill then passed in the House on a 289-112 vote. The legislation included extensions of COBRA health care insurance benefits for laid off workers, emergency flood insurance, small business loan guarantee programs and Medicare payments for physicians. The measure also retroactively extended the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, through June 2, 2010.
The programs lapsed on April 5, after Congress adjourned at the end of March for its Easter break. According to the National Employment Law Project, this caused approximately 200,000 people to prematurely lose their unemployment benefits within a single week,
Sen. George LeMieux, R - Fla., commented that the current extension should not be called "emergency spending" since lawmakers knew it was coming and had time to find an offset. "At some point, enough is enough," LeMieux said. "If we want to pay for it, I'm all for it."
The economic recession has left 15 million Americans unemployed with 44 percent searching for a job in excess of six months. More than 11 million unemployed people rely on unemployment benefits to survive. Since the start of the recession in late 2007, a growing number of individuals have exhausted their state unemployment insurance benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost six million Americans have exhausted their state benefits and claimed federal emergency benefits.
Earlier this month, LeMieux announced his office would host various job fairs throughout Florida. Part of a multi-faceted effort to help Floridians create or find jobs and increase their incomes, LeMieux's office hosted a successful job fair in South Florida where 60 employers and 2,500 people attended. The office also sponsored a virtual job fair for the Orlando region where an estimated 400 to 500 positions were filled. In late March, LeMieux's office joined with the U.S. Department of Commerce to host a Small Business Export Expo providing an opportunity for Floridians to network with people and groups who are experts in the export promotion field. More than 50 small business and nearly 20 vendors were in attendance.
Through these tough economic times, states have borrowed more than $40 billion from the government to sustain their unemployment insurance funds. By the end of FY 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor has estimated that 40 states will have outstanding federal loans exceeding $90 billion. Under the current rules, Congress has to extend the emergency unemployment benefits every month.
While the current unemployment rate is pegged at 9.7 percent, the Congressional Budget Office has projected a downward turn in the second half of this year with a near constant rate above 8 percent until 2012.
"During these difficult economic times, I am committed to providing as many resources as possible to help Floridians get back on their feet," LeMieux said. "The events will bring employers and job seekers together in a friendly forum to help Florida businesses grow and Floridians find employment. Promoting job recovery is one of my main priorities as a senator and I hope job seekers will take advantage of these events."
LeMieux's Web site, http://www.LeMieux.senate.gov, has a full section dedicated to providing easy access to information about job services and business development resources. It includes information on upcoming job fairs, workforce training, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Employers can also access information about federal agencies that provide business information and assistance.
William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of "The Credit Report with Bill Lewis" on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.