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NewsFlash: June 6, 2008

Statement from Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute

Today’s announcement that unemployment rose sharply in May underscores that the economy and the job market are in deep distress, and the 8.5 million unemployed need help. Congress needs to act on measures that will extend unemployment insurance.

The Senate has passed a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance as part of the supplemental appropriations bill, but leaders of the House of Representatives have suggested they would drop it from their version of the bill. This would be a disaster for the unemployed and bad for the economy, as well. The House leadership and President Bush should announce their support for the Senate bill and move to quickly enact it.

Quick action is needed, especially for the million and a half Americans who have been seeking work for more than six months without success. Their hopes are even dimmer today, and forecasts for the months ahead offer no relief. They have exhausted their right to unemployment insurance benefits and many of them will face bankruptcy, foreclosure, and other financial hardships if Congress does not act swiftly to extend unemployment insurance benefits.

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