Emergency unemployment compensation is helping 29,240 Oregonians who, despite looking for over 26 weeks, have not been hired. That is about the number (29,600) of Oregonians OCPP estimates will abruptly lose benefits on December 29 if Congress does not act to extend the program, reducing the number receiving unemployment compensation support of any kind by a third.
The disappearance of this safety net, however, will have an even wider impact. Also affected will be those who will exhaust their 26 weeks of state benefits after December 29. OCPP estimates that about 12,100 Oregon workers will be in this situation during just the first three months of 2013.
The end of federal unemployment insurance will also diminish economic activity in our state. Federal unemployment insurance is pumping millions of dollars into the Oregon economy each month, helping struggling families and communities hard-hit by long-term unemployment. Over the course of this year emergency unemployment insurance brought over $600 million into Oregon, helping the economy in every county in the state.
Congress must act without delay to extend the emergency unemployment compensation either in the “fiscal cliff” legislation or in a separate bill.
Oregon currently has 166,000 unemployed workers, and so far this year, the state economy has added on average about 1,700 jobs per month. At that rate, it will take eight years for all those who want to work to have the opportunity.
I am sure I am not alone in longing for the day when the economy is robust enough that Oregon doesn’t need the extended emergency federal support.
I am also sure that the families, friends and neighbors of the thousands of unemployed workers facing the end of their modest unemployment insurance would agree with me that right now our economy needs a robust extension of the federal uninsurance program. Oregonians, and Oregon’s economy, need federal action right now.