The Congressional Black Caucus Pushes to Extend Current Unemployment Benefits that will Promote Economic Recovery

Washington, DC – Today, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus sent the following letter to the House Leadership urging them to extend current federal unemployment insurance programs through 2012. Currently overall unemployment continues to hover around 9% and African American unemployment continues to float in the double digits at 15%. With approximately 6.4 million fewer jobs now than at the beginning of the Great Recession, the Department of Labor data shows that there are over 4.2 unemployed Americans for every job. Unemployment assistance is more of a necessity than ever as Americans struggle to find work in a weak economy with limited job opportunities. Federal unemployment assistance remains a critical lifeline to help our citizens who are suffering with persistently high unemployment.

In addition to extending current emergency benefits, the Congressional Black Caucus believes it is critical to the well-being of our citizens and our economy that we provide assistance to those who have exhausted their benefits. Congress must provide an additional 14 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation. Most unemployed Americans no longer receive unemployment insurance benefits. It is vital that we amend our safety net to reflect the protracted economic hardship that our nation and citizens are experiencing. Assisting our citizens during a time of national emergency so that they can purchase basic human necessities such as food and shelter is a sign of responsible leadership.

Finally, the letter also addresses the need for Congress to create jobs. The American people have made it clear that creating jobs should be our top priority and President Obama has introduced a solid bipartisan jobs plan, the American Jobs Act that will put millions of people back to work. The jobs created by this bill form the backbone of our communities: teachers, first responders, and construction workers. This is a chance for us to show the American people that we have their best economic interests at heart. The members of the CBC have seen first-hand the desperate need for job creation through our For the People Jobs Initiative; where tens of thousands of our constituents stood in line for hours to apply for jobs. Our constituents want to work; they need to work. As legislators and as a Caucus, we are doing all that we can –introducing H. Res. 348 and over fifty pieces of legislation that directly address job creation. The Members of the Congressional Black Caucus believe that we have a chance to show the American people that we have their best economic interests at heart. To demonstrate that this Congress is both morally and fiscally responsible, the time to act on job creation is now.

Below you will find the letter in its entirety that has been signed by each Democratic Member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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