Cantwell Delivers on Help for Washingtonians Struggling to Find Work

Success in extending unemployment benefits injects nearly $1 billion into state economy; helps jobless bridge gap to recovery

SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said at a press conference that newly extended Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and Extended Benefits (EB) will inject nearly $1 billion into the state’s economy while providing critical income for thousands in Washington looking for work. Speaking at the YWCA’s Opportunity Place, home of several organizations providing resources for job seekers, Cantwell hailed the enactment this week of the emergency extension. The measure makes it possible for more than 130,000 Washingtonians to continue receiving their unemployment benefits through November while they continue to search for new jobs.
“Extending these benefits provides critical stimulus and a lifeline for Americans struggling to find employment in this tough economy. This is an investment in our long-term stability – to bridge the gap to recovery,” Senator Cantwell said at today’s press conference in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. “This action literally puts food on tables, pays overdue bills, and provides for visits to the doctor for those Washingtonians who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own during this economic downturn. My top priority in Washington is job-creation, which is why I am working so hard on growing our clean-energy economy, and why I waged a winning floor fight this past week to get the Senate to pass a Small Business Lending Fund.”
Cantwell has been fighting against strong Republican opposition for this extension and helped pass it out of the Senate on Wednesday, July 21. Final House passage the next day sent it on to the President, who signed it into law that same day, Thursday, July 22. This measure goes hand-in-hand with job-creating measures Cantwell strongly supports, including the Small Business Lending Fund amendment, passed later Thursday night by the Senate. The amendment, attached to a still-pending small business bill, creates a Small Business Lending Fund that encourages community banks to lend to job-creating small businesses. The measure will not add to the deficit but will leverage an estimated $300 billion in private-sector lending.
According to analysis of the unemployment insurance program by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, for every $1 spent on UI, $1.90 goes to stimulate the local economy because it is always spent right away on necessities such as groceries and rent. Unemployment benefits were responsible for creating 1.1 million jobs since the recession started, and adding 1.7 percent to the gross domestic product, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
“The extension of unemployment benefits by the U.S. Congress can result in up to $900 million more in Washington state personal incomes,” said Arun Raha, Ph.D., Chief Economist and Executive Director of Washington state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. “If normal spending patterns are assumed for these incomes, then we can expect up to $30 million more in revenues to the state over the same period.”
The measure signed into law by President Obama Thursday extends EUC through November, fully funds Extended Benefits (EB) through November, and eliminates the part-time work penalty. Before the penalty was eliminated, people who took part-time work but then were laid-off were unfairly penalized because their new UI benefit was recalculated based off their recent part-time job, usually resulting in lower benefits. This created a disincentive for people on UI to take part-time jobs while seeking full-time work. The EUC extension is retroactive to June 2, 2010.