Reed backs extended unemployment assistance


From an op-ed by the senior senator in today's Call of Woonsocket and Times of Pawtucket:

The average benefit to Rhode Island job seekers is $309 per week and may usually be collected for up to 26 weeks.

Economists agree extending benefits is one of the most effective ways to stimulate the economy.

Eligible beneficiaries tend to quickly spend their checks on basic necessities like groceries, rent, fuel, and medicine.  This money gets pumped right back into the economy and our communities.

Conservative economist Mark Zandi testified before Congress that for every $1 the federal government invests in unemployment insurance, it adds $1.64 to the national GDP.  “The bang for the buck is very high,” Zandi noted.

Extending unemployment insurance benefits during economic downturns is not unprecedented.  In 1991 and 2002, Congress worked with the White House to successfully extend temporary benefits when unemployment rates were significantly high.

In September, Barack Obama and I offered a plan to provide an additional 7 weeks of unemployment insurance for people who have exhausted their benefits and 13 more weeks of benefits to unemployed workers in states like Rhode Island that have unemployment rates above the national average.

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