15 million Americans are unemployed to date

By Amanda Carson
October 15, 2009

Shannon Keough

A House-passed bill could provide additional unemployment compensation and extend benefits by 13 weeks. The bill is now pending in the Senate and causing debate.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 was drafted with the intent of providing relief to the 15 million jobless Americans.

It was designed “to help people,” Mike Decesare, media contact for Senator James McDermott said in a phone interview.

The bill, however, would only extend aid to states whose unemployment rate is 8.5 percent and above. 27 states would receive the benefits, including Pennsylvania.

Senate opposition now stems from the 23 ineligible states.

“Unemployed workers face equally severe challenges no matter what state they live in, and they should be given the support they need,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen said to legislators.

The continued debate will also focus on companion bills, or bills related to the unemployment extension act.

Often specifics from companion bills are incorporated into bills such as the extension act.

Currently states give about $300 in benefits for about a half-year to those who qualify. Qualifications to receive the payment vary by state.

The present economic situation is unlike others in the fact that one-third of those unemployed have been jobless for six months.

Now 400,000 are without benefits. At the end of the year, over one million will not be able to receive benefits.

If the Senate passes the bill President Obama will then sign it.

Amanda Carson

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