Langevin Supports House Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits During Sluggish Economy

Oct 16, 2002
(Washington, D.C.)–As the stock market hovers near 8000 and Rhode Island unemployment has risen to 4.8%, Congressman Jim Langevin today announced his support for legislation that will help unemployed Rhode Islanders continue to provide for themselves and their families while they search for work.

 The legislation, authored by Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), would extend the current federally-funded Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program for an additional six months, or until June 30, 2003.  The bill would also ensure that workers in every state are eligible for 26, instead of 13, weeks of extended unemployment benefits.  Those states with high unemployment would receive an additional 7 weeks of benefits.

 “Many Rhode Islanders, and Americans across the nation, are struggling to find employment, but the jobs simply are not there,” said Congressman Langevin.  “The very least Congress can do is to provide unemployed Rhode Islanders the resources they need to put food on the table and pay the bills while they weather this tough job market.”

 Under the federal unemployment extension enacted in March, the trigger used to determine whether states can offer unemployed workers 13 weeks or 26 weeks of extended benefits only counts individuals receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits.  This formula greatly underestimates the need for unemployment benefits.

 According to Congressman Rangel’s office, there are 2.4 million more unemployed workers than there were two years ago, and the unemployment rate has gone from 4% to 5.7%.  One and a half million jobless Americans will have exhausted their extended unemployment benefits by the end of September.  The number of unemployed for 27 weeks or more has gone from 680,000 in July 2001 to more than 1.5 million in July 2002. 

 “We cannot forget those who have been displaced by corporate malfeasance and the sluggish economy,” added Langevin.