This holiday, tens of thousands of Texans will lose unemployment insurance (UI) if Congress fails to extend federal benefits for workers unemployed for more than six months. Cutting off support will hurt Texas families and businesses as thousands of Texans will have fewer resources to cover their basic household expenses throughout 2014.
During the Great Recession, Congress authorized 100 percent federally-funded unemployment insurance—Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and Extended Benefits (EB)— for those struggling with long-term unemployment. These programs have been an economic boost for Texas, with nearly $13.7 billion in UI benefit payments injected into our state and local economy since 2008.
As the EUC program is set to expire at the end of this year, an estimated 69,000 Texans still struggling to find work will lose benefits by December 28. And nearly 107,000 Texas workers experiencing persistent unemployment will not receive any long-term benefits as they run out of regular state unemployment insurance through June 2014—benefits previously available to jobless workers during the course of the economic recovery.
Since 2008, the number of weeks of federally-funded UI benefits available for unemployed workers varied based on a state’s unemployment rate. Because the Texas unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high during the recovery, the state qualified for 67 weeks of federally-funded UI benefits just two years ago. Due to federal cuts to the program, however, Texas now only receives 28 weeks of additional EUC benefits. These federally-funded benefits have been an economic lifeline for Texas families as nearly half of Texans receiving unemployment insurance have exhausted their regular state benefits during the past year.
Congress should act to extend jobless benefits to continue to support workers and their families while the economy continues to recover.