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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OPA News Release: [12/01/2010]
Contact Name: Jaime Zapata
Phone Number: (202) 693-4676
Release Number: 10-1682-NAT

Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on the extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement regarding the extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits:

"President Obama has said that Americans don't expect Washington to solve their problems, but they rightfully expect government to work for them — not against them. I agree.

"Over the last week, our federal legislators have had an opportunity to extend Unemployment Insurance — a critically important program that brings immediate returns to our economy while helping Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. But a lack of bipartisan support blocked the effort.

"To those who are standing in the way of this extension, I say: the time to put politics aside is here. The welfare of millions is at stake.

"If Congress fails to act on an extension of the UI program 2 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance by the end of the year. And millions more could join their ranks in the coming months. As a nation, we simply cannot let this come to pass.

"In fact, our government has never cut off unemployment benefits this early in a recovery. By way of example, following the 1982 recession — during President Reagan's time in office — federal benefits were continued through the spring of 1985, after unemployment had fallen to 7.2 percent. There were good reasons for it then, and there are very good reasons for it now. UI benefits help those who need it most by putting food on the table and paying the bills. And, the return on investment on UI — 2 dollars in gained economic activity for each dollar invested in the program — is highly critical to our economic recovery.

"In the midst of political rhetoric, it's too easy to lose sight of the fact that this economy belongs to all of us, whatever our employment status. So, helping those who need it most is not just the right thing to do for them, it helps everyone in America.

"Politics should never punish those who need help most, and it should never get in the way of sound policy. Congress must pass this important extension. Americans — all of them — are depending on it."