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Jobless extention legislation signed by President Obama


December 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Jobless extention legislation signed by President Obama


REGION, November 6th- President Barack Obama signed legislation that will extend jobless benefits to the economic hardest hit states including Pennsylvania to 99 weeks. The United States Senate voted on November 4th to extend the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program for an additional six weeks to recipients in states such as Pennsylvania where the unemployment rate exceeds 8.5 percent. The bill passed the Senate unanimously with both Democratic Pennsylvania Senators, Robert Casey Jr. and Arlen Specter voting for the legislation.

“With states such as Pennsylvania experiencing record unemployment number, it is high time the Senate pass legislation to extend unemployment insurance benefits to millions of struggling Americans. As we work to recover our economy, we must continue to endure that out-of-work families have the assistance and support to afford the basic necessities and stay in their homes. It is unfortunate that this much-needed relief was delayed by Republican led tactics for over a month, during which time 200,000 Americans saw their benefits expire,” said Mr. Specter.

The United States House of Representatives passed the emergency unemployment insurance legislation 403-12, with Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent (Republican-15th Legislative District), voting in favor. Mr. Dent voted against the economic stimulus legislation and also voted against providing loans to American automakers eariler this year.

The bill will extend emergency unemployment insurance for another 20 weeks for Pennsylvanians to help the many individuals and families that havebeen forced out of their jobs as a result of the troubling economic situation. Pennsylvanians who have been unable to find jobs can now receive a total of 79 weeks of unemployment insurance. The legislation will also extend the tax credit for homebuyers which was originally implemented through the recovery package.

Unemployment insurance is temporary income for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Regular unemployment insurance provides up to 26 weeks of benefits. Emergency unemployment insurance is a federally funded program created in 2008 to provide additional benefits of 13 weeks or up to 34 weeks, and an additional 19 weeks of benefits for those living in states with high unemployment. Pennsylvanians qualify to receive the additional 19 weeks of unemployment insurance.

The extention is fully paid for and aims to help boost the local economy, while helping those who are unemployed. The Congressional Budget Office has cited unemployment benefits as one of the most cost-effective forms of economic stimulus, and every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.63 in new demand, according to Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry announced on October 1st, 23,000 long-term unemployed Pennsylvanians, who have not been able to find work following a job loss, exhausted their final seven-week extension of unemployment compensation benefits. Under the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program those workers will receive the additional weeks of benefits.

The legislation also contained Business and Homebuyer Assistance Provisions which extend through April 30, 2010 the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (up to $8,000 or up to 10 percent of the purchase price of the residence), allowing 60 days to close, provided that the homes are under a binding contract by that date.

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