ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/WCBS 880) — New York is preparing for the possibility that an extra 190,000 residents could lose emergency unemployment insurance benefits at year’s end if Congress fails to act next week, state Labor Commissioner Colleen Gardner said Friday.
“This is no time to cut off benefits,” Gardner said. “We still have a job market where there’s only one job opening for every five people looking for work.”
WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola with protesters
“We estimate that for every dollar invested in unemployment insurance benefits, close to $2 is spent in every local economy,” she added in a conference call with reporters. “That’s especially important between now and the end of the year as the holiday time approaches.”
More than 100,000 New Yorkers already have exhausted their emergency benefits. Some 30 percent of those have tapped public assistance, typically food stamps and sometimes the Medicaid health care program for the poor, Gardner said.
An additional 190,000 state residents could lose out by Jan. 1 or around 400,000 by May 1, she said.
Chanting “bail out the people not the banks,” long term unemployed people gathered on Varick Street Friday to demand Congress pass “Tier V” of employment benefits.
Jobless people are eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits in most states. The first 26 weeks are paid by states. About 3.7 million draw them now.
Tier V, contained in the “Americans Want to Work Act,” would extend unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks for those who have exhausted that amount.
Among those urging the government to act was 57-year-old Joe Stanick, an unemployed engineer from New Jersey, who said he wants a job, but everything he’s tried to get hired hasn’t worked.
“I go online, I do the traditional classified ads and in the papers, e-mail resumes, and snail mail resumes,” Stanick told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola.
Republicans in Congress want spending cuts of $5 billion to $6 billion a month as a condition for extending emergency benefits scheduled to expire in December. Up to 2 million people could lose the benefits if the Democratic-controlled Congress doesn’t act in the postelection lame-duck session.
Democrats argue that the extended benefits should be paid for with deficit spending because it injects money into the economy. Jobless people immediately spend the cash, they explain. But Republicans note that the government had to borrow 37 cents of every dollar it spent last year, and it’s time to draw the line.
(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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