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Unemployment Extension Bill is Now Law, But the Fight for the Unemployed is Far From Over

July 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As you all probably know by now, President Obama has officially signed the unemployment extension bill into law, sending it the state unemployment offices for them to begin implementing. The bill extends unemployment insurance benefits for people who have been jobless for more than 6 months until November 30th. It will also pay benefits back retroactively for the more than 2.5 million people who have had their payments cut off since Congress let extended unemployment benefits expire on June 2nd.

To track the bill as it moves to the individual states, visit the OpenCongress Benefits Wiki, where you can find state-specific information on how it’s being implemented. Since it’s a wiki, it only works if everyone adds what intel they have on what’s happening with the bill in their state. So, please, if you’ve seen any local reports or received any information from your state labor agency on when to expect checks, add it to the wiki so that other folks who may be searching for the information can benefit from it.

We’ll be continuing to cover the unemployment insurance issue as it goes forward, but, for now, as this current wave of congressional action winds down, I want to urge all of you who have been following the unemployment extension bill to continue paying attention to what’s happening in Congress. As Annie Lowrey at the Washington Independent reported recently, the unemployment insurance extension bill that was signed into law today is most likely going to be the last one. That means that, come December, we are going to be right back in this same situation, with hundreds of thousands of unemployed people per week losing their unemployment insurance payments without any real chances for finding jobs.

As the chart at right shows (click it for a larger version), the median duration of unemployment today is more than twice as high as it has been since at least 1965. Long-term joblessness is just an incredibly huge problem in the U.S. right now, and when Congress cuts off extended unemployment benefits for good in December, we’re going to be facing a 9%+ unemployment rate and no support for the unemployed beyond 26 weeks.

That’s going to propel a giant shift in the political landscape. We’ve seen recently that when unemployment benefits expire, a huge amount of political interest and energy is generated. For example, over the past 30 days, unemployment insurance legislation garnered more than 10 times as many page views on OpenCongress than the major Dodd-Frank financial reform bill (H.R.4173) that was moving through Congress at the same time. So, the energy will be there. But the challenge is going to be finding the right place to focus it.

The point I want to stress here is that even though this unemployment insurance bill has now been signed into law, the fight for the people who have lost their jobs during this recession is really just getting started. If you check out of the discussion on jobs and unemployment now, you’ll be in a worse situation for re-engaging and making a difference come November or December. The earlier you’re involved in the issues and organized around solutions, the more success you’ll have in the legislative battles when they occur. I’ll be covering the jobs and stimulus situation on OpenCongress over the next few months. I hope you’ll keep following along, either here (RSS) or on the OpenCongress Facebook page.

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Comments

Displaying 211-215 of 215 total comments.

  • Comm_reply
    Chris51 07/29/2010 10:01pm

    You are not alone. Nevada bloggers are feeling left in the dark on their checks. They can’t get through to anyone at state Employment Department get status on their claim. California unemployed claims are at 510,000. Employment dept. will keep staff working through Saturday, to continue processing 334,000 for Californians who meet the eligibility criteria. Extension forms are being mailed out, but no checks until they are returned for processing.

    Nevada – Perhaps that is why Sharron Angle wants to eliminate Social Security, so they won’t have to bother fixing their lack of ability to administer social services. Here is a news clip on this http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/38333756#38420154

    On July 29th., Ed Shultz on MSNBC is Fired Up for 99ers. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/38333756#38477005

  • Comm_reply
    plefever 08/01/2010 5:49am

    Unemployed Georgia – We have NOT received any money so far. Georgia’ DOL site claims they have paid out 78 million but we have not received a dime. Certification site still tells my husband to call in. My husband called in (after 3 hours of wait time holding on the phone) and they have NO ANSWERS as to why some got paid and some did not. My husband went into Tier Two on the 27th of this month. He went to the DOL office and they told him all claims would be paid by the 30th of July. STILL NO MONEY!

    There is NOTHING on the web about what Georgia’s problem is either. Anyone heard anything?

  • beenblue 07/29/2010 9:09pm

    Dear seanurse you beautiful little agitator, I admire that you have passion, and compassion and that “REMEMBER NOVEMBER” is truly a part of your vocabulary in all your posts. All those e- mails hitting our representatives worked if you pay attention to their wording, and the RepubLICANS want in on it come Nov. WELL that`s proof in the pudding, that 15,000,000 votes do count. And I emphasized LICANS in RepubLICANS, because a wolf looks like a dog… BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU BRING HOME right !!

  • taxthis 08/02/2010 5:30am

    Florida!!! Your A.W.I.( Agency for Workforce Inovation) has no inovation! Y’all department really does suck!

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