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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OPA News Release: [05/28/2010]
Contact Name: Office of Public Affairs
Phone Number: (202) 693-4676
Release Number: 10-0756-NAT

Statement of US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on need to fund Summer Youth Employment, and extend UI and COBRA subsidy

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement regarding the need to fund Summer Youth Employment and extend both unemployment insurance and Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act benefits:

“Summer youth employment opportunities, unemployment insurance benefits and the COBRA safety net program are essential tools in returning our economy to full strength.  Millions of Americans depend on these proven initiatives and — unless the federal government acts quickly — countless families will be left without financial recourse.

“Summer Youth Employment offers our nation’s youngest workers an opportunity to gain exposure to such high-growth areas of our economy as health care and green jobs — all while gaining skills that they will use throughout their careers. For many of these young people, summer jobs also mean an essential source of funds to purchase text books or help their parents cover food expenses and other household items.  Last summer, some 320,000 youngsters got the chance to earn a paycheck because of this program.  We can make that possible for other young workers this summer as well, but time is rapidly running out.

“At the same time, we must support adult workers who are desperately seeking jobs, but — in many cases — simply cannot find them. The COBRA safety net and the unemployment insurance system are often the only things allowing households where one or more members have lost their jobs to continue paying the bills while seeking new employment.

“Over the course of the past year, some 2.4 million Americans who lost their jobs received the Recovery Act-funded COBRA subsidy.  This subsidy allowed them to retain health coverage for their families, and estimates show 1.2 million more workers would need to enroll in that program before the end of the year.

“Last, but not least, if Emergency Unemployment Compensation is not extended, and the Extended Benefits program is not funded by the first week of June, more than 19,000 Americans could start losing these vital benefits.  And, by mid-July, more than 2 million could be without benefits altogether.

“The alarmingly high stakes should make the point very clear.  Funding all of these programs is essential, and the clock is ticking quickly.  I urge Congress to act without further delay. The American people cannot wait.”