Why you are receiving this ALERT
Please contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support extending the federal unemployment benefits for workers before they adjourn. Congress is scheduled to leave on October 18. While every Member of Congress should hear from their constituents, the Senators (and Representatives from those States) on the attached list are key to our success. The Capitol switchboard is 202 224 3121.
In March of 2002, Congress created a program that provides up to 13 extra weeks (26 weeks in Oregon and Washington) of federally-funded benefits for workers who exhaust their regular, state-funded unemployment benefits. Unless Congress acts to extend this program, no worker will be eligible for a single week of fully federally-funded unemployment benefits after the last full week of December. This means that unemployed workers who have just begun receiving their extra weeks of benefits will be cut off completely in the new year.
- The unemployment rate remains unchanged from March, when Congress first acted to help workers. In March, the unemployment rate was 5.7%. The August unemployment rate, released in early September, remained at 5.7%.
- Unemployment is not projected to fall until at least next summer. The Congressional Budget Office recently projected that the unemployment rate would hover around 6% until at least July, 2003.
Time Is Running Out
- More than a million workers have already run out of unemployment benefits, and many are in need of extra weeks of benefits. By the end of September, approximately 1.5 million workers have exhausted all of their benefits. Every passing week that Congress delays action on providing more unemployment benefits to these workers means additional hardship for their families.
Congress Helped Unemployed Workers in Other Recession
- During the last recession, Congress and the President acted five times to aid unemployed workers. In the last recession, which began in the early 1990s, Congress and President George H. W. Bush enacted five successive bills that provided relief to unemployed workers. In the current recession, Congress has acted only once to help workers.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Position
In a 2001 letter to the U.S. Senate, Cardinal Mahony, then Chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee, said:
As pastors, we know the human cost of joblessness and the social consequences of inadequate benefits. The Holy Father points out that society and the state are obliged to protect the worker "either through economic policies aimed at ensuring balanced growth and full employment or through unemployment insurance..." Obviously new jobs are the best answer for those without work, but, in the meantime, we owe these workers some measure of compassion and justice through a reformed and improved unemployment insurance system. For more Information Contact: Thomas Shellabarger 202 541 3189
October 1, 2002
States that need particular attention:
1. Alaska: Stevens, Murkowski
2. Arizona: McCain
3. Arkansas: Hutchinson
4. Colorado: Allard, Campbell
5. Illinois: Fitzgerald
6. Indiana: Lugar
7. Iowa: Grassley
8. Maine: Collins, Snowe
9. Mississippi: Cochran
10. Missouri: Bond
11. Nevada: Ensign
12. New Mexico: Domenici
13. Ohio: Voinovich, DeWine
14. Oklahoma: Inhofe
15. Oregon: G. Smith
16. Pennsylvania: Specter, Santorum
17. Rhode Island: Chafee
18. Texas: Hutchison
19. Utah: Hatch, Bennett
20. Virginia: Warner