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Oregon Economy and 50,000 Unemployed Oregonians Will Suffer if Congress Fails to Extend Emergency Aid

Fact Sheet
December 2, 2013 Download PDF

Oregon’s economy and tens of thousands of Oregon families will suffer if Congress fails to extend emergency unemployment benefits soon. Without congressional action, shortly after Christmas about 21,000 laid-off Oregon workers and their families will lose their federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits. An additional 29,000 workers and their families will lose these benefits by mid-2014.[1] Because unemployment benefits promote economic activity, their loss will weaken Oregon’s economy and cost jobs.

Emergency UI Benefits Still Needed Because Jobs Remain Scarce

Jobs remain hard to find. In October, the national unemployment rate was 7.3 percent and Oregon’s rate stood at 7.7 percent.[2] Both are well above the 5.6 percent national unemployment rate in June 2008, when Congress first authorized EUC.[3]

How scarce are jobs? Factoring in population growth, Oregon still needs to create about 175,600 jobs just to get back to the level of employment right before the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.[4]

In a tough job market, many unemployed workers who lost their job through no fault of their own find it impossible to land work within the regular period of unemployment insurance. In normal times, unemployment insurance expires after 26 weeks. But in these times of elevated unemployment, EUC provides an extended lifeline to long-term unemployed workers as they continue searching for work.

50,000 Oregonians Will Lose Benefits By Mid-2014 Absent Extension

Emergency Unemployment Compensation is set to expire at year’s end. Unless Congress soon reauthorizes the program, all unemployed workers helped by EUC will receive their last payments by December 28.

The holiday season cut-off will affect large numbers of families. Nationwide, 1.3 million workers will lose their unemployment benefit lifeline.[5] In Oregon, 20,900 unemployed workers will be cut off on December 28.[6] That’s about the same as the total number of workers employed in Baker, Curry, Grant and Harney counties combined.[7]

An additional 29,000 unemployed Oregon workers will be left without unemployment insurance benefits by the end of June 2014.[8] That’s the estimate of the number of workers who will exhaust their regular unemployment insurance benefits over the first half of next year and will have no emergency benefits to fall back on.

Thus, by mid-2014, about 49,900 laid-off Oregon workers will have lost their unemployment insurance lifeline. That’s more than all of the workers employed in the Corvallis metropolitan area — Oregon’s sixth largest metropolitan area.[9]

Expiration of Federal Jobless Benefits Will Cost Oregon Jobs

In times of elevated unemployment, unemployment insurance not only protects workers and their families directly impacted by the weak economy, it also boosts the economy and creates or helps maintain jobs. Unemployed workers, who are likely struggling to make ends meet, tend to spend their unemployment benefits quickly on basic needs. This money circulates within local economies, supporting and creating jobs.

The expiration of federal EUC benefits would choke off a significant flow of funds into Oregon communities. Over the last 12 months, EUC brought nearly $400 million of federal funds into Oregon.[10] (See Appendix for EUC dollars flowing into each Oregon county.) According to one estimate, extending EUC through 2014 would grow the national economy by about 0.2 percent and save or create 310,000 jobs across the country.[11] A slice of those jobs would be Oregon jobs.

Conclusion

Nearly 50,000 Oregonians will lose their unemployment insurance by mid-2014 unless Congress reauthorizes emergency jobless benefits. Failure to extend these payments will not only harm these unemployed workers and their families, it will also hurt Oregon’s economy.

Appendix


[1] U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means Democrats, Rep. Sandy Levin Report, Millions of Unemployed Americans Will Lose Benefits Unless Congress Acts, November 7, 2013.

[2] See Oregon Employment Department, http://www.qualityinfo.org/olmisj/labforce?x=1&y=1, and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic Releases, http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000.

[3] National Employment Law Project, More Than Two Million Unemployed Workers Will Lose Jobless Aid by Early 2014 if Congress Allows Federal Benefits to Shut Down at Year’s End, November 2013.

[4] Figure shown as of October 2013. OCPP and Economic Policy Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

[5] U. S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means Democrats, Rep. Sandy Levin Report, Millions of Unemployed Americans Will Lose Benefits Unless Congress Acts, November 7, 2013.

[6] Ibid.

[7] In October 2013, total employment in Baker, Curry, Grant and Harney counties was 20,452. OCPP analysis of Oregon Employment Department labor force data for October 2013.

[8] U.S. Committee on Ways and Means, Rep. Sandy Levin Report, Millions of Unemployed Americans Will Lose Benefits Unless Congress Acts, November 7, 2013.

[9] In October 2013, employment in the Corvallis metropolitan statistical area was 41,730. OCPP analysis of Oregon Employment Department labor force.

[10] Between November 2012 and October 2013, EUC payments to Oregon totaled $394,229,215. Data from Oregon Employment Department.

[11] Shierholz, Heidi and Lawrence Mishel, Labor Market Will Lose 310,000 Jobs in 2014 if Unemployment Insurance Extensions Expire, Economic Policy Institute, November 7, 2013.