This just in from our friends at the Economic Policy Institute:
After months of campaigning by EPI and allied groups, Congress finally enacted a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The veto-proof June 27 vote is expected to help more than 3 million unemployed workers who otherwise would have exhausted their benefits over the next nine months, and to provide a needed boost to hard-hit local economies. The vote also signals an understanding by members of Congress that the current economic downturn is serious and requires ground-level intervention.
EPI started agitating for the extension in December, when talk of a recession was just emerging. Since then, the Institute has been at the forefront of the campaign, with staff members providing testimony, giving media interviews, writing op-eds and blogs, and conducting research showing that rates of long-term unemployment were already high enough to warrant action. Benefits run out after 26 weeks in most states.
In early June, two weeks before the final vote, EPI urged its email subscribers to contact members of Congress. As EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey wrote in the alert, it was time to stop blaming the jobless for their plight. “There are now only 3.7 million job vacancies but 8.5 million unemployed looking for work,” Eisenbrey noted. “The fault is not with the jobless; the problem is a failing economy and the government’s failure to turn it around.”