White House urges Congress to extend unemployment benefits
The administration of US President Barack Obama has urged US lawmakers to extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans looking for work.
The Director of the White House’s National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, called on US lawmakers in a statement on Friday to take immediate action after they return to Capitol Hill from their Christmas and New Year vacations.
“Never before have we abruptly cut off emergency unemployment insurance when we faced this level of long-term unemployment and it would be a blow to these families and our economy,” said Sperling.
“While we remain disappointed that Congress did not heed the President’s call to extend emergency unemployment benefits for next year before the holidays, the President as well as the Democratic Congressional leadership have made clear the importance of extending the benefits immediately upon Congress’s return,” he added.
An emergency federal program, under which jobless workers in the US could receive unemployment insurance payments, will end Saturday after US lawmakers refused to renew funding for the program.
Ending the program will immediately affect 1.3 million Americans and by mid-2014, 1.9 million long-term unemployed Americans will lose their benefits. Some economists have estimated that the number of Americans impacted by the loss of benefits will rise to 5 million before the end of 2014.
According to The New York Times, without the federal program, which was created during the recession, only 26 percent of American unemployed workers will be able to receive any type of jobless benefit by the end of 2014.
Opponents to the program say the time has come for ending the program because unemployment has fallen from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to 7 percent in November.
However, much of the decline in the US unemployment rate is attributed to people who dropped out of workforce.