16,000 Workers in West Virginia Could Lose Unemployment Benefits
According to a report from the Committee on Ways and Means Democrats, 16,000 long-term unemployed workers in West Virginia could lose their unemployment benefits in the coming months if Congress does not reauthorize the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC).
EUC was created in response to the Great Recession and was extended under the American Taxypayer Relief Act. EUC has increased the number of weeks an unemployed worker can collect unemployment benefits while looking for work in a slowly recovering economy. Without reauthorization from Congress, EUC will expire on December 18, 2013. If that happens, 6,300 West Virginians will lose their benefits immediately, while another 9,700 would lose their benefits by July 2014.
The expiration of the extended benefits comes at a time when millions of workers are still struggling to find work. The average worker is unemployed for nearly 37 weeks before he or she can find work, 20 weeks longer than before the recession. More than one in three unemployed workers has been without a job for more than six months, while there is still only one job opening for every three unemployed workers. The length of time an unemployed worker in West Virginia can receive benefits has already fallen from 93 weeks to 54 weeks since 2011.
Ending the EUC will not only hurt the workers and their families who rely on the support, but it will also have a negative impact on the economy. The Economic Policy Institute estimates than the expiration of EUC will cost 310,000 jobs in 2014, due to the loss of income and reduced consumer demand.
The potential end of the EUC comes on top of recent cuts to SNAP, as well as the sequester's impact on child-care subsidies and other support for vulnerable and low-income West Virginians.