(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded Senate passage of a bill that will extend unemployment assistance for as long as 13 weeks, delivering much-needed help to struggling families in Washington state and across the country.  The bill, which was approved by the House earlier this year, passed the Senate today.  It now heads to the President’s desk.

“Families have lost their jobs, their homes, their cars, and their savings in the economic crisis that has spread across this country.  They are hurting and they need help,” Senator Murray said.  “I’m proud that the Senate came together today to pass this bill.  The action we took today will help Washington families keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.  And I hope the President will sign it quickly and deliver hope to families as soon as possible.”

The nationwide unemployment rate is now 6.5 percent.  In Washington state, the jobless rate has jumped dramatically over the last year to 6.3 percent as of October. 

The measure that passed the Senate would extend an additional seven weeks of assistance to jobless workers whose unemployment benefits have already run out.  Workers in States with high unemployment – those with a three month average of 6 percent or higher – would get another 13 weeks of assistance.

Nationwide, a total of 1.2 million jobs have been lost this year, and over half of that decrease came in the last three months alone.  More than 10 million workers are now unemployed and seeking work – 2.3 million of these people have been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

“Experts believe the economic slowdown is going to continue into next year,” Senator Murray added.  “Our economy needs a jumpstart that will help us pull ourselves out of this crisis.  That’s why I will continue to fight for a broader stimulus package that invests in our communities, creates ‘green jobs,’ and ensures that young workers have the support they need to succeed.”