Durbin Demands Federal Extension of Unemployment Insurance

[CHICAGO, IL] – More than 115,000 workers in Illinois have lost their unemployment insurance benefits due to Republican opposition to legislation that would extend the benefits through November, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today.


“There are now five jobless workers for every job opening in our country, and the unemployment rate in Illinois is over ten percent. Unemployment insurance is critically important not only because it keeps food on the table for millions of desperate families nationwide, but also because it is one of the best ways to generate economic demand and stimulate growth. In fact, no form of fiscal stimulus has proven more effective than emergency unemployment benefits,” said Durbin.


The extension would reinstate benefits for workers who are eligible for unemployment insurance, but who stopped receiving their benefits when the previous extension expired in June. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed legislation authorizing the extension, which the Senate will be voting on again this week. This will be Senate Democrats’ fifth attempt to pass an extension of unemployment insurance, which has been repeatedly blocked by the Minority.


According to testimony given before the Senate Finance Committee by Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, unemployment benefits have a proven impact on increasing consumer spending—for every $1 of unemployment benefits, the economy gets back $1.61. While consumer confidence has recently improved, it remains fragile and would likely weaken again if unemployment benefits are not extended.


More than 1.2 million people nationwide lost their unemployment insurance benefits at the end of June due to the legislative stalemate. Although the nationwide unemployment rate has dropped below 10 percent, the unemployment rate in Illinois is 10.4 percent, and there are 694,000 people in Illinois who are currently unemployed. Every week that an extension is not passed more people will lose the critical safety net that unemployment benefits provide.


According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 55 percent of all adults in the labor force say that since the Great Recession began 30 months ago, they have suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours, or have become involuntary part-time workers.


“The jobs of more than half of the American workforce have been hit by the recession, and we cannot sit idly by as millions lose their only lifeline,” Durbin said.