Opinion

Compromise over unemployment benefits needed

An editorial from the Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Last month, the U.S. Congress broke its typical gridlock and reached a compromise on a budget bill.

What was not included, however, was the extension of a five-year federal program that provided unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. The end of the program last Saturday affected 1.3 million people immediately and could affect hundreds of thousands more who remain jobless in the months ahead if a legislative remedy is not found. Under the program, the federal government provided an average monthly stipend of $1,166.

The program is backed by President Barack Obama’s administration and Democrats in Congress, but many Republican lawmakers have balked at its $26 billion annual cost. Since 2008, the program paid out benefits to the unemployed after their 26 weeks of state benefits ran out. At its peak, the program offered up to 73 weeks of federal benefits — which are typically offered during periods of high unemployment.

We encourage Congress, with compassion for the millions of American affected, to continue last month’s trend and work toward another compromise…

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