Federal Lawmakers Continue Wrangling Over Unemployment Extensions

By Unemployment-Extension.org | May 4, 2014 at 8:30 PM |

Viable Alternatives Exist for the Career-Minded

During the peak of the federal unemployment benefits extension, the unemployed could collect state and federal benefits for a combined 99 weeks. There were up to four tiers of federal extensions that automatically kicked in as people used up first their state and then each successive tier of federal unemployment benefits. But with the steadily improving economy and already massive levels of government spending and debt weighing on the minds of many lawmakers, a lot of them are hesitant to approve another round of unemployment benefits extensions from the federal government.

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As of Jan. 1, the federal unemployment extension programs ended with no funding having been approved for more further federal benefits extensions, which cut off unemployment funds for 2.8 million people in the United States in December. Many applicants continue to apply for benefits that they hope will be approved and made retroactive to the start of the year. And the U.S. Senate in early April approved an extension, but the measure awaits action in the House of Representatives where it faces a more difficult route to approval.

Arguments for Extending Federal Unemployment Benefits

Those who favor extending the unemployment benefits for people who otherwise haven`t exhausted their benefits eligibility cite the potential economic harm of having millions of families and individuals suddenly incapable of paying bills and forcing them to rely even more on state and federal welfare and other social support programs to conduct their daily lives. Extending the financial lifeline can help long-term unemployed to continue searching for jobs as the summer jobs season approaches.

Unemployment typically drops during the summertime as seasonal jobs provide new opportunities for youth, college students and seasonal workers involved in the construction industry and other weather-dependant jobs return to work. And many lawmakers favor extending unemployment benefits to help people transition into new jobs. Cutting people off will only force bankruptcies, bruise local economies and put more pressure of local, state and federal social welfare programs, according to many in favor of extending benefits.

Arguments Against Extending Federal Unemployment Benefits

Many of those who oppose extending  benefits for the unemployed point to an improving economy and suggest it is time for people to find work instead of relying on federal funding at a time when federal spending and debt are at unprecedented levels. Because the economy has improved and there are viable jobs available, people no longer truly need the unemployment extension and instead should be encouraged to take on jobs to pay the bills while they continue to look for better-paying work and career-oriented jobs, some argue.

The average weekly unemployment benefit during 2011 was about $297, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many who oppose extending unemployment benefits say that amount easily could be replaced with a part-time job that still leaves time for the worker to search for a better job. As fewer people depend on a weekly unemployment check, more people will put money into the economy instead of depending on costly government programs, which will help to improve the economy even further.

Creating New Opportunities for Rewarding Careers

While federal lawmakers continue their debates and slow action on the proposed unemployment extension, in the meantime, many people who were hoping to obtain an unemployment extension for 2014 update still can find good jobs. As the economy continues rebounding from the lows of the Great Recession and many jobs-training and placement programs exist at the local level, a lot of great opportunities are opening up for motivated individuals.

Obviously, getting a job is the best way to end the need to collect unemployment benefits. But such simple answers aren`t always accompanied by easy solutions. Many people lack the skills to find better paying jobs in an ever evolving job market. And many live in areas where perpetual unemployment rates remain higher than the March national average of 6.7 percent as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The combination of high localized unemployment and a lack of marketable job skills creates a nearly insurmountable obstacle for many job-seekers.

But even in the most dire of circumstances, there are many opportunities to turn a seemingly hopeless situation into one in which there is a great deal of opportunity and success to be found. Many local unemployment offices have free job-training programs for people who are drawing unemployment. Such programs include free training to obtain a commercial driver`s license, free forklift training to be certified to run a warehouse forklift, and many other free jobs-training programs that can help qualified people to land good-paying jobs and develop new careers. And some federal programs offer nearly $6,000 in grants to go back to school to learn a new and more marketable trade and career.

Obtaining Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension for 2014 Update

Those who are among the about 2.8 million unemployed who await word on the potential benefits extension can stay abreast of developments by visiting their respective state departments of unemployment websites to learn about new developments. The U.S. Department of Labor also can provide a great deal of information as well as respective members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Members of the House in particular can be reached by calling their local offices and having staff members provide updates on any potential progress toward extending unemployment benefits.

Those who might be unsure of who their representatives in Congress are usually can find them at the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives websites and look up elected federal officials by each state and Congressional district. Contact information will be provided at member websites, and each member of the House of Representatives maintains an active office in their respective districts.

Contacting those offices is the best way to stay informed on the most up-to-date developments of a federal unemployment extension. The offices also are terrific resources for learning more about free jobs-training and career placement programs in local areas.

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*IMPORTANT: Be sure to check with your State for details on your full eligibility requirements, or to begin the voluntary benefits process.