As Congress tries to wrap up before taking its holiday break, a major issue it needs to deal with is the extension of federal unemployment insurance (UI). AAUW urges Congress to extend UI. We are committed to promoting the reduction of poverty, and UI plays a key role in reducing poverty and helping our economy recover.
UI provides basic benefits to Americans who have lost their jobs and are retraining or looking for another job. For many, UI benefits are the only way they can afford to stay in their homes and stay above water financially. Congress has until December 31 to renew UI, and if these benefits are not renewed or if their renewal is delayed, millions of Americans will be hurt. In January alone, more than 2 million people would lose their benefits, and millions more would have this critical lifeline cut off in the near future — more than 6 million would lose their benefits during 2012.
UI is particularly important for women, as the last few years have been especially unkind to them. According to the Pew Research Center, “Employment trends during the recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy.” In November 2011, women gained more than half (65,000) of the 120,000 new jobs reported, yet analysis shows a wide job gap of 1.5 million jobs between men and women. Single mothers in particular are struggling — their unemployment rate is 12.4 percent, compared with the national average, 8.6 percent. Unemployment insurance benefits help these families survive while unemployed parents retrain for new careers or look for new jobs.
But UI doesn’t just benefit families struggling to make ends meet; it’s also good for our economy. Extending UI will immediately help millions of families stay afloat, and they will, in turn, spend that money in our struggling economy. Studies show that UI benefits are usually spent, not saved, and as a result, every $1 spent on employment insurance stimulated $2 in growth in the economy.
Not extending UI would have a devastating impact on American families and on our economy. Extending UI is not just a matter of simple fairness but the key to families making ends meet and to our nation’s economic recovery.
If you want to show that you value this protection for American families, then join us as we begin ramping up for My Vote, the AAUW Action Fund’s new voter education and turnout campaign.