Statement by OCPP Policy Analyst Janet Bauer
Today’s congressional vote to extend unemployment insurance immediately helps more than 37,000 unemployed Oregonians who, since June, have faced substantially shortened benefit periods. With today’s extension, most of these unemployed Oregonians and thousands of others who will be exhausting regular benefits in coming weeks will now be better able to get by into next year, when hiring is expected to pick up.
Extended unemployment benefits boost Oregon’s economy by pumping millions of dollars into communities throughout the state. For instance, each week in May 2010, the program brought $24 million into the state. These dollars ripple through the economy, protecting jobs as laid-off workers purchase the basic goods and services needed to keep a household afloat. That’s why leading economists rate unemployment insurance as one of the best ways to stimulate the economy in a recession.
Now that Congress has taken this overdue action, will it take the other important steps to protect jobs and help avert the prospect of a double-dip recession?
To date, Congress has not mustered the votes on two other programs vital for Oregon’s economy and jobs: Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). These two programs not only help the most vulnerable among us but the programs are responsible for thousands of private and public sector jobs in Oregon.
The next order of business for Congress must be to temporarily extend the Recovery Act’s additional funding for Medicaid services and TANF to keep the economy moving in the right direction.