By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The federal budget deal, approved by the House and now before the Senate, contains a harsh blow to the unemployed: extended benefits for them will end just days after Christmas.
Today, advocates for the unemployed gathered at 30th Street Station to urge the program be restored.
Bill Paci is among an estimated 86,000 Pennsylvanians who will lose extended unemployment benefits December 28th, despite the fact that the long-term unemployment rate is higher now than when the program was created under Pres. George W. Bush in 2008.
“The jobs aren’t out there,” he said this morning. “I send out résumés, beat the streets, nothing comes back.”
John Dodds, of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, said, “It’s ironic that we’re standing under a Christmas tree, that this holiday season Congress has chosen to end this program, and families and millions of children are going to have nothing under the tree this year.”
US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) says the loss of benefits not only puts a burden on those who have lost jobs and can’t find new ones, but it also harms the overall economy.
“Whether you’re working or not working, this program benefits you,” Casey said. “It’s the ol’ bang for the buck. You spend a buck on unemployment, by some estimates you get more than $1.70 back. There’s an estimate out there now by a think tank that says if you end this program, you’ve just wiped out 310,000 jobs.”
Casey wants the US Senate to restore the program this week and the House — which has recessed for the holiday — to follow suit early next year.