Granholm Urges Congress to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Contact: Liz Boyd 517-335-6397

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 3, 2010

Governor cites impact on Michigan citizens and economic recovery 

LANSING - In her weekly radio address, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today said Congress must act quickly to extend unemployment benefits for Michigan workers and their families.  Unless Congress acts, unemployment benefits for more than 181,000 Michigan workers will end between now and April 30.  

"Extending unemployment benefits is not only the right thing to do, it's the right economic policy," Granholm said.  "Money from unemployment benefits is rapidly spent in the local economy at places like the grocery store, the corner pharmacy and the gas station, all stimulating demand.  It's estimated that employment in Michigan is about 42,000 jobs greater now because of emergency and extended unemployment benefits provided over the last two years." 

According to a report released yesterday by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, employment nationwide was about 800,000 jobs higher in September 2010 than it would have been without the Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs. 

"Letting millions of jobless Americans fall further into hardship by not extending benefits will hurt our national economic recovery," Granholm continued.  "The impact on Michigan would be an estimated 26,000 fewer jobs.  And ending the benefits will stretch our social safety net to the breaking point." 

The governor also noted the irony of members of Congress who are blocking unemployment benefits, but who support tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  Based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Department of Labor, a one-year extension of unemployment benefits costs about a tenth of providing tax cuts for the wealthy. 

"So after denying a few hundred dollars a week to an unemployed worker, they would extend tax cuts for those with household incomes of $250,000 and more.  This is not only unjust, it's poor economic policy," Granholm said.  

"There's still time for Congress to do the right thing and extend unemployment benefits for another year," Granholm concluded.  "I urge them to do it now and to make the holidays a little brighter for unemployed workers and their families throughout Michigan and the nation." 

The governor's weekly radio address is released each Friday and may be heard on broadcast stations across the state.  The address is available for download on the governor's Web site at www.michigan.gov/gov together with a clip of the quote above.  The radio address also is available as a podcast on the Web site, and on the governor's Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Links to the audio files and text of today's address follow.  

Full:  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/gov/Gov278Full_339871_7.mp3
Edited: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/gov/Gov278Edit_339874_7.mp3
Quote:  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/gov/Gov278Quote_339876_7.mp3

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
Radio Address: Unemployment Insurance
December 3, 2010 

Hello, this is Governor Jennifer Granholm.

It's the holiday season, traditionally a time of joy and happiness.  But for thousands of unemployed Michigan workers and their families, the holidays are not so bright. 

Not only are these workers jobless, many of them may soon be losing one of their lifelines - unemployment benefits - unless Congress acts quickly. 

On November 30, Congress did not renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.  Full federal funding for the Extended Benefits program ended as well.  Unless Congress acts, unemployment benefits for 181,500 Michigan workers will end between now and April 30. 

As a result, the typical household receiving these benefits could see its income fall by a third.  The scenario is even worse for those households where there's a sole wage earner receiving unemployment benefits.  In those households, unemployment benefits are 90 percent of their income. 

Unemployment benefits help the jobless make ends meet while they look for work.  People use unemployment benefits to pay for food, housing, utilities and other necessities.  

Extending unemployment benefits is not only the right thing to do, it's the right economic policy.  Money from unemployment benefits is rapidly spent in the local economy at places like the grocery store, the corner pharmacy and the gas station, all stimulating demand.  It's estimated that employment in Michigan is about 42,000 jobs greater now because of emergency and extended unemployment benefits provided over the last two years.  

Conversely, letting millions of jobless Americans fall further into hardship by not extending benefits will hurt our national economic recovery.  The impact on Michigan would be an estimated 26,000 fewer jobs.  And ending the benefits will stretch our social safety net to the breaking point. 

What's ironic is that the same members of Congress who are blocking extending unemployment benefits are adamant that Congress has to first extend tax cuts for the wealthiest in our nation.  

So after denying a few hundred dollars a week to an unemployed worker, they would extend tax cuts for those with household incomes of $250,000 and more.  This is not only unjust, but it's poor economic policy. 

There's still time for Congress to do the right thing and extend unemployment benefits for another year.  I urge them to do it now and to make the holidays a little brighter for unemployed workers and their families throughout Michigan and the nation. 

Thank you for listening. 

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