Democrats Urge Extension of Federal Unemployment Insurance Program

The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program expired Dec. 28, cutting off an average weekly benefit of $300 to 1.3 million job seekers. Without an extension, another 72,000 Americans, on average, are estimated to lose their unemployment insurance every week during the first half of the year.

Economists agree that providing extended unemployment benefits is one of the most effective job creation strategies available during a period of high joblessness. Every dollar of unemployment compensation spent creates $1.52 in additional economic activity. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending the benefits for another year would save 200,000 jobs. 

Ways and Means Democrats have called on Congress to extend the federal emergency unemployment insurance program through 2014. Congress must act soon so to restore these necessary benefits to unemployed workers and their families.


STATE DATA (MAP): Where the 1.3 million Americans who lost their UI live

COUNTY DATA: County-level breakdown of number of people who lost unemployment insurance Dec. 28

MAP: Local coverage around the country

MAPEditorials from around the country

NEWSPAPER FRONT PAGES: From around the country

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: $400 Million drained from local economies in unemployment benefits this week (Jan. 3)

STATE DATA: Record-low 25% of jobseekers now receive assistance (Dec. 31)

STATE DATA: 72,000 Americans losing unemployment insurance every week (Dec. 30)

STORIES: The Stories of Americans Losing Federal Unemployment Insurance (Dec. 27)

REPORT: 1.3 million Americans to lose their federal unemployment insurance (Nov. 7)

Key Facts:

  • Unemployment benefits (# of weeks) have dropped by more than a third in the last two years, according to CRS
  • Economy still has 1 million fewer jobs than before Great Recession began
  • 37% of unemployed have been out of work for more than six months
  • Failure to extend UI would cost economy 200,000 jobs, according to CBO
  • Almost 1.9 million more would lose UI in the first half of 2014 as their state benefits run out
  • 1.3 million will lose UI the week of Dec. 28

Tell Us Your Story

The Committee is interested in hearing your thoughts on extending these benefits and on proposals to create new jobs. Through this eforum we want to gather the information Congress needs to understand conditions in American communities across the nation.  We welcome your comments on any of the following:

Have you or someone in your family lost a job? Are you struggling to find work or to learn new skills?  Tell us your story.

How have unemployment insurance benefits affected your life? Have they helped you pay your bills or stay in your home?   Tell us your story.

What kind of job training or reemployment assistance programs are in your community?  Did you receive training or job search assistance? Tell us your story.

Posting online: Selected stories, or story excerpts, will be posted online. Posted stories will, by default, include only your first name, city and state. Your full name and email will never be posted online or provided without your permission.

Your story will be kept as part of the record of this forum. And this site will be updated with selected stories or relevant portions thereof as the days go on.



UI Storyboard
Across the country approximately 1.5 million Americans have lost their unemployment benefits.  The impact on their families and their self-esteem is shared in their stories. It's hard to understand how Republicans can think that losing these benefits will help the unemployed.

James from Visalia, CA:

“As you know my family will loose unemployment benefits, on December 28th, that I have paid into my entire working life. I have been unemployed for a year now and was laid off because new technology eliminated my job class at Southern California Edison. Over the last year I have submitted hundreds of applications and resumes with no success of securing employment. I have exhausted my entire pension and 401k to keep my family's head above water. If my benefits are cut off on the 28th we will not be able to pay our rent or have a home. We will not be able to pay our car note and may loose our car. I don't know how I will look for work or take my daughter to school without it. I beg you to continue push for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits considering the unemployment rate in my county is currently almost twice the national average.”

Michelle from Lindenhurst, NY:

“I am a 53-year old woman who has worked since age 13. My employer retired July 31,2013. I am a medical assistant/medical office manager for 30years. I have resumes posted on over twenty sites, with two employment agencies and the NYS Department of Labor. I spend at least three hours daily online searching for jobs and then cold faxing or calling physicians offices. I am currently collecting unemployment benefits that don't even cover my mortgage and homeowners taxes. If the emergency unemployment is cut I will be homeless. I have not turned down any offer to work I just haven't been given one. Yes I believe age discrimination is in play but also the fact that physicians are waiting to see how Obama care hits them financially. I beg you to extend these benefits as well as help us who are now displaced from viable wages due to our ages. I would work today if I could get a job.”

David from Farmington Hills, MI:

“I am a young professional with an advanced degree that was laid off a few months ago due to cutbacks at my former employer. I have been diligently searching for a new job since my layoff but there is more competition for jobs than ever and the search has been difficult. I currently have about one more month of unemployment benefits through my state. When these benefits run out, I will be forced to stop payments on my car and my car insurance. Without my car, it will be nearly impossible for me to find work because the nature of my profession requires that I drive my personal vehicle in order to perform my job. I am not sure what I will do at that point. I am hoping to find a new job soon, but with the holidays approaching many employers are beginning to put hiring on hold until after the New Year. Cutting off Federal Unemployment benefits for America during this time is an awful idea.”

Kimberly from South Hill, VA:

"I lost my job of 18 years at a local retail corporate office in May of 2013 due to a consolidation of offices. Please note that this particular retailer had been in business for over 125 years and located in rural Virginia. This is the first time in my life I have been out of work and I was the bread winner of the house.  I am not lazy, not on any assistance and I WANT TO WORK but our local unemployment rate is 10.5% - not a bright outlook.  Without the assistance from unemployment insurance, my family and I would have lost everything.  PLEASE, PLEASE reinstate these benefits! I am still looking for a job and these benefits will continue to help me to look for work, provide food and housing for my family!"

Judith from Warren, MI:

“Unemployment benefits kept food on the table when no one in the family was working. It did not pay all the bills but it kept us in an apartment. Medicaid covered our medical needs during the crisis. Thank God we are now employed and can afford to pay our taxes and take care of our family. I do not know what we would have did without the unemployment benefits. It is beyond cruel to think of cutting them or delaying them.”

Joseph from Chicago, IL:

"The unemployment benefit is my lifeline. It means that I put food on the table, continue paying my homeowner association fees so that I have a roof over my head, and pay for phone/internet that I need to continue my job search.  Without this benefit, I am in severe danger of not getting back into the work force in a meaningful way.  I would be forced to take a minimum wage job and work overtime (if offered) just to buy food.  Paying rent on minimum wage in Chicago doesn't seem to be feasible, so I would likely have to move as well."

Janet from Roseville, MI:

“I have been laid off since the end of May 2013 after working continuously for 14 1/2 years. I have been job searching actively since then sending out cover letters and resumes and attending job fairs. I am doing all that I can to find employment with no luck as of now. I will have no means of income after December 28 if the extension does not pass. I am in the process of losing my home. Right now I am just trying to pay my utilities and keep my car, as I must have it to search and gain employment. I pray each night for the extension, as I don't know where I will be without it.”