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Rep. Lloyd Doggett Headshot

The Facts Are Clear: The Time to Extend Federal Unemployment Coverage Is Now

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With over 6 million fewer jobs than when the recession began and more than 4 workers competing for every available opening, too many Americans have nowhere to go. It's like the lyrics of Workin' Man by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band:

Had me a job till the market fell out
Tried hard to borrow but there was no help.
Now I've got nowhere to go.
I need a job for these two hands
I'm a workin' man
With nowhere to go

And if our Republican colleagues continue to blame unemployment on the unemployed, there will be about another 5 million Americans with nowhere to go -- lacking the means to put food on the table next year when their unemployment insurance expires.

While Republicans continue their fact-less finger-pointing, I think it is long past time we set the story straight.

Fact: An unemployment check is not a substitute for a paycheck. Unemployment benefits usually amount to only a fraction of what a worker was making before losing his or her job.

Fact: Unless you are actively searching for a job, getting job training for a new job, or are on a temporary layoff, you are not entitled to an unemployment check. There is little evidence to support Republican claims that unemployment insurance benefits are a significant factor in discouraging folks from going out and looking for work.

Fact: To receive extended benefits, an unemployed person is required to accept reasonable offers of employment. Two out of three unemployed respondents in the Heldrich Center survey, and 80 percent of those who received benefits, said they would be willing to take a pay cut to get a new job.

Fact: One economist estimates that for every $1 we spent on unemployment insurance benefits, we get $1.61 in economic activity back. Some estimates, like that from a Department of Labor study originally commissioned during the Bush Administration appears to find an even greater economic impact.

We must create jobs, but we must also preserve a vital lifeline for folks who are looking for work. The facts are clear -- the time to extend unemployment coverage is now.