Labor Council anticipates Congressional Action on Extension of Unemployment Insurance

A combination of the current economic downturn, rising gas prices and food costs, along with an elevated rate of unemployment provides a dire forecast for Latino working families.

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, this month the United States experienced an unprecedented rise in the national unemployment rate, presently at 5.5 percent – a monthly rate that has not been seen since 1986.

This year, there have been an estimated 325,000 jobs lost in the economy, and 49,000 in the month of May. For Latino workers, the unemployment rate reached 7.3 percent, widening the unemployment gap between Latinos and non-Latinos which had previously hit record lows at a 0.5 percent difference.

The Nationl President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancemente (LCLAA), Milton Rosado stated, “we are watching our economy deteriorate. Joblessness has increased. Food is becoming more expensive and people are burdened with exorbitant gas prices. Latino working families are experiencing a depletion of their finances as they struggle to obtain the bare necessities.”

On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee took action on the unemployment situation and approved a bill calling for a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits to jobless workers.
If approved, the bill would provide aid to 3.8 million people on the brink of financial risk.

The Labor Councils’ Executive Director Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus added, “the Ways and Means Committee has acknowledged the economic distress Latino working families are experiencing. My concern is for working families that will soon lose their unemployment insurance benefits without finding alternate means to supplement their lost income.”

Lemus said that if they cannot create enough jobs for workers “then we must assist them in their struggle to stay afloat during this economic crisis. It is time for the full Congress to stand behind workers in support of the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act.”

Dr. Lemus explained that this piece of legislation is not only essential for workers, but good for the economy. It is estimated that this year, about 3.5 million jobless workers will exhaust their state unemployment benefits without being able to find new jobs.

At the same time, the number of long-term unemployed – people out of work for more than six months – has reached 1.55 million and according to EPI projections, this figure will increase to 1.9 million by the end of 2008.

“These are tough economic times that call for immediate measures to aid struggling families. Workers cannot be permitted to go down with the sinking economy; they are a fundamental component of it and essential to generating the economic demand that is so desperately needed to reenergize it,” Dr. Lemus concluded.

The Labor Council calls on Congress to garner support and secure the passage of this bill, crucial for the relief of America’s workers and to a revitalized economy.

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