Washington: President Barack Obama Saturday urged lawmakers to extend unemployment benefits for millions of unemployed Americans before Christmas to help low-income families and bolster job creation.
“Right now, more than one million of our fellow Americans are poised to lose a vital economic lifeline just a few days after Christmas if Congress doesn’t do something about it,” Obama said in his weekly address Saturday, Xinhua reported.
Around 1.3 million workers currently receiving extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are set to lose them Dec 28 and about 3.6 million additional people will lose access to UI benefits beyond 26 weeks by the end of 2014, if Congress allows the programme to expire, the White House said in a report Thursday.
Unemployed Americans can get 26 weeks of state-paid unemployment benefits, and the length of the benefits has been extended in 2008 after the onset of the financial crisis with the financial help of the federal government. The federal government- funded extra assistance UI programme has been repeatedly extended in past years.
“We need to do everything we can to help businesses create more good jobs that pay good wages even faster. Because the hole that we’re still digging out of means that there are still millions of Americans looking for work — often because they’ve been laid off through no fault of their own,” Obama said.
He said if Congress refuses to act, it would not just hurt families already struggling, it would actually harm the economy, adding that unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways to boost the economy.
“When people have money to spend on basic necessities, that means more customers for our businesses and, ultimately, more jobs,” he noted.