By Teresa Welsh |
Unemployment insurance is money received from the United States by workers who are no longer employed, through no fault of their own. Over the past month, nearly 400,000 Americans have filed for jobless benefits each week. Currently, over 7 million Americans collect some form of unemployment insurance.
Each state is responsible for its own unemployment insurance. Most offer a term of around 26 weeks during which a citizen can collect benefit checks. In urgent economic times like the current recession, Congress is authorized through the Social Security Act to distribute federal unemployment benefits as an extension of state funds. The current Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension, which is set to expire on Jan. 3, 2012, covers unemployed workers for up to 99 weeks.
With the expiration of these benefits fast approaching, debate over further extension of jobless benefits has grown throughout the country and in Congress. The Obama administration has argued that unemployment insurance can create jobs while providing much-needed care for those who cannot find work. Opponents point toward an already enormous national debt as a reason to discontinue any extension, and they argue that unemployment benefits stifle job seekers.
Should Congress extend federal unemployment benefits? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:
Howard Rosen Resident Visiting Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics
Geoff Davis U.S. Representative, Kentucky's 4th District
Sander Levin U.S. Representative, Michigan’s 12th District
Carl E. Van Horn Professor of Public Policy and Director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University
Lloyd Doggett U.S. Representative, Texas’ 25th District
James Sherk Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at the Heritage Foundation