Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District highlighted a new report on how many Americans have seen their unemployment insurance run out since December 28 of last year. The analysis by House Ways and Means Committee Democrats found that more than 1.6 million Americans, including 7,492 New Mexicans have lost these important benefits. Without Congressional action, on average, nearly 72,000 people are losing unemployment insurance every week.
“It was disappointing that once again Republicans recessed the House without addressing expiring unemployment insurance that is leaving families in New Mexico out in the cold,” Congressman Luján said. “I hope that a week at home talking to their constituents – hearing the stories of people who want to work and provide for their families but are struggling in an economy that has yet to fully recover – will move Republicans to action when the House returns next week.”
House Republicans have blocked multiple efforts by House Democrats to bring legislation to the floor that would extend unemployment insurance that supports families during a time of need and supports small businesses that feel the impact when families have to cut back on basic necessities. In the Senate, Republicans have also voted to block action on an extension, including a proposal to scale back the program substantially and offset the costs.
With every dollar of unemployment compensation spent creating $1.52 in additional economic activity, economists have found unemployment benefits to be one of the most effective job creation strategies available during a period of high joblessness. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that extending unemployment insurance for another year would save 200,000 jobs.
“Opposition to an extension of these benefits ignores the fact that in the current economic climate there are nearly three job seekers for every job opening,” Luján added. “Last year, in what was the least productive session of all time, House Republicans failed to offer an agenda to create jobs, and now they want to deny vital assistance to our friends and neighbors who are struggling to find work.”