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Letter to the House supporting legislation that would extend unemployment benefits

June 12, 2008

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we again urge your support for legislation that would extend unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. We were disappointed that the House failed to pass this legislation earlier this week under suspension of the rules. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

For five consecutive months, the U.S. economy has lost jobs, for a total loss of over 300,000 jobs. Just last month, the unemployment rate saw its biggest one-month increase in over 20 years. Currently, over 1.5 million workers are long-term unemployed, meaning they have been jobless for over six months.

Long-term unemployed individuals receive neither a paycheck nor unemployment benefits. And, rising gas and food prices are making it even harder for them to meet their families' even most basic needs. Extension of the unemployment insurance program is critical to ensuring family stability and, consequently, the well being of thousands of students in our public schools.

The legislation under consideration this week would provide up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits in every state to workers exhausting regular unemployment compensation. In states with higher levels of unemployment, an additional 13 weeks would be available. This temporary extended benefits program would expire in March 2009.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates this bill would provide benefits to 3.8 million unemployed workers. In addition, it will help stimulate the economy. According to CBO, extending unemployment benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fastest-acting forms of economic stimulus because the money is spent quickly.

Again, we urge your support for this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy