MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin called on Congress today to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which expired on Dec. 28. The Governor said about 650 Vermonters lost benefits with the program’s expiration, losing an average weekly benefit of approximately $300. Up to 2,300 Vermonters could lose assistance over the first half of 2014.
“Vermont has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, yet many Vermonters continue to look for secure work as we pull out of the worst recession in history,” Gov. Shumlin said. He thanked President Obama and Vermont’s congressional delegation for fighting for the program.
Nationally, more than 1 million jobless workers saw their benefits expire – including 20,000 recent military veterans – and another 1.9 million will lose their unemployment benefits over the first half of 2014.
Gov. Shumlin joined a handful of other Governors in writing political leaders in Congress to urge extension of the program. The Governors noted that failure to extend benefits harms not only the individuals and families who depend on the help to pay for the basics, but states’ economies that are recovering from the recession.
“Our country’s jobless population spends unemployment benefits on rent, groceries, and other key necessities for themselves and their families. Our businesses and local communities benefit from the increased spending, and in turn, the EUC program helps to increase economic activity,” Gov. Shumlin wrote.
“Thus, not only does the EUC program benefit the long-term unemployed, but it also helps to inject revenue into our local economies, which saves and creates critically needed jobs throughout our economy,” the letter continued. “For this reason, economists widely recognize that government spending on unemployment insurance benefits is one of the most effective tools for increasing economic activity in a period of persistently high unemployment.”
Gov. Shumlin also applauded the U.S. Senate for voting to begin debate on the unemployment insurance extension – a significant step forward for the legislation in that chamber.