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Illinois' Unemployment Rate to Grow Unless Congress Extends Emergency Unemployment Compensation

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Illinois will lose 27,000 jobs in 2012, and its unemployment rate will increase from 10% to 10.5%, unless Congress approves extending the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, according to the Economic Policy Institute. EPI's projection that failure to extend the EUC program will have such a dramatic effect in increasing unemployment is based on standard economic "multiplier" effects and the fact that the long-term unemployed -- often the most desperate for resources to meet their basic needs -- are apt to immediately spend any benefits they receive. Taking this consumer spending out of the economy, by failing to extend EUC, would result in lost jobs in the stores and businesses where the money would be spent. That is why failing to extend the EUC would increase the unemployment rate.

The EUC program was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide unemployment insurance benefits to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs in the Great Recession and have exhausted or no longer qualify for unemployment benefits through existing state programs. The EUC program is desperately needed given the anemic pace of job growth since the recession's end and the long durations of unemployment that a record number of Americans are experiencing.

The EUC program will expire at the end of 2011 if Congress fails to extend it. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking Democratic member on the House Ways and Means Committee and the co-sponsor of legislation to extend the EUC program for a year, explains: "Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment benefits to expire with such a large percentage of Americans looking for work and we must not let that happen now."

The EUC program was extended for one year near the end of 2010 as part of a grand compromise that also included a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The EUC program has been a target of some Tea Party adherents and their supporters in Congress, who believe that extending the period that unemployment compensation is available makes people lazy and unwilling to look for work. Nevertheless, it is currently expected that Congress will agree to extend the EUC program, although what other demands will be made in return for agreeing to such an extension remains to be seen.

This blog is based on analysis and a report by the Economic Policy Institute.