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Louisiana Republicans Standing in the Way of Unemployment Insurance Extension

In Louisiana, 7,800 Lost Insurance Coverage Last Week; 12,400 Will Lose Coverage in First Six Months of 2014 Because of GOP Inaction

BATON ROUGE — The new year isn’t so happy for thousands of Louisianians who lost their unemployment insurance benefits last week and thousands more who will lose out if Louisiana Republicans like Sen. David Vitter and Rep. John Fleming continue to refuse to extend support for workers still looking for jobs.

“The time is now for Louisiana Republicans to do the right thing and vote to extend this program that helps workers who are trying to find new jobs to support their families,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “Thousands of Louisiana families faced a harsh Christmas season with the expiration of unemployment insurance benefits, and thousands more are facing economic ruin in 2014.

“Extending unemployment insurance benefits isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Every dollar in benefits generates about $1.50 in additional economic activity. Louisiana’s economy is too fragile to take away this lifeline from thousands of families.”

Louisiana’s unemployment rate in November 2013 was 6.3 percent, compared to 5.7 percent in November 2012.

According to a report by the House Ways and Means Committee Democrats, 7,832 unemployed workers lost their unemployment insurance benefits on Dec. 28, and an additional 12,400 will lose their benefits in the first six months of 2014.

Across the country 1.3 million American workers lost their unemployment insurance benefits. Locally, the parishes hardest hit by the Republicans’ failure to extend unemployment insurance were Jefferson (833 workers), Orleans (796), East Baton Rouge (766) and Caddo (688).

While some Republicans claim that unemployment insurance incentivizes workers to stay unemployed, the challenges facing the long-term unemployed are significant. There are still about 3 job seekers for every job opening, according to the Economic Policy Institute.