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Murray Introduces Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act

Sep 25 2002

Bill would extend unemployment benefits for out of work Washingtonians

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – With Washington state facing the second highest unemployment rates in the country, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined Senate colleagues to introduce the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2002.

The bill would extend unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of the year for an additional twenty weeks in states suffering the highest unemployment (including Washington state), and additional thirteen weeks for all other states. The legislation would also extend temporary benefits through July 1, 2003.

"In Washington, tens of thousands of workers have lost their jobs, and are reaching the end of the rope of their unemployment benefits. Congress must act now to protect struggling families – they can not afford to wait any longer," Senator Murray said.

In October 2001, 800,000 Americans had been out of work for six months or longer. One year later, that number has nearly doubled to 1.5 million, and experts expect it to increase to more than 2 million by December.

During the recession of the early 1990's, Congress extended temporary benefits five times. This year, they have been extended only once.

In 1999, the Department of Labor found that when unemployment insurance is extended, every dollar in benefits generates $2.15 in gross domestic product.

"Extending unemployment insurance for unemployed workers will put money back into the hands of consumers who will then put it back into the economy," Murray continued. "While all Americans are concerned about strengthening our homeland security, we must also ensure our economic security by extending benefits for unemployed workers by the end of the year."

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee where it is awaiting action.