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Rep. Mike Thompson decries cut to federal unemployment benefits


The termination of federal unemployment benefits last month halted payments to 3,086 Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino county residents totaling about $936,000 in the first week, according to state figures.

Statewide, the cutoff affected 213,793 long-term unemployed people, who lost an average weekly benefit of $303, the state Employment Development Department said.

Rep. Mike Thompson.

Rep. Mike Thompson.

That adds up to a loss of nearly $65 million for the California economy in the first week since the cutoff on Dec. 28, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said Thursday.

An additional 12,531 Californians will lose jobless benefits each week during the first half of 2014 if no action is taken to restore the benefits, Thompson said in a press release, citing U.S. Department of Labor data.

People who receive unemployment insurance payments spend the money on rent, groceries and utilities, supporting local jobs and businesses, Thompson said.

The benefits are “an important economic lifeline” for families, as well as a “strong economic stimulant” for the nation, he said.

In Sonoma County, 2,236 people lost benefits that totaled about $677,500. In Mendocino County, 396 people lost benefits of $120,000, while 454 people in Lake County lost about $138,000 in the first week.

Napa County sustained a loss of about $180,000 to 598 people, according to the state figures.

Nationwide, the cutoff left 1.3 million jobless people without benefits totaling nearly $400 million, with an additional 72,000 people set to lose benefits each week during the first half of the year.

The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008 and has been reauthorized several times as the economy recovers from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Thompson said.

There are more than 1 million fewer jobs than there were before the recession began, and more than 4 million people have been out of work for six months or longer, he said.

Thompson and Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, are co-sponsors of a bill, H.R. 3546, that would extend emergency unemployment insurance for one year.

Huffman and 48 other freshman House Democrats on Thursday urged House Speaker John Boehner to schedule an immediate, up-or-down vote to extend the jobless benefits.

“Congress — and our economy — cannot afford to sit idle as so many Americans desperately wait for us to act,” the Democrats said in a letter to Boehner.

An aide to Thompson said the jobless benefits issue was currently before the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that Democrats had proposed a revival of unemployment benefits until mid-November, paying the $18 billion cost with new spending cuts, Reuters reported.

“The package does what the Republicans wanted,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

(You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.)

6 Responses to “Rep. Mike Thompson decries cut to federal unemployment benefits”

  1. Grapevines says:

    Thompson is a hypocrite! Decrying the loss of unemployment benefits while seeing that his pay and those of his staff gets raised.

    He wants more unemployment benefits? Have it come out of the salaries of the clowns that walk the halls of the capital.

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  2. Papa ESoCo says:

    I gotta agree with bear, on this one. I see he got 5 thumbs down and one thumbs up(mine). Where is the logic in assertions that the whole unemployment problem is caused by Undocumented Workers? The problem is 3 decades of falling income for the Middle Class, Corporate Greed, a financial collapse, brought on by the Bankers, etc. Also, it is good for Employers to have high unemployment; helps them to continue to pay subsistence(many times far less)wages. Could go on and on, but you get my drift.

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  3. Follower says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t the people advocating the extension of unemployment benefits because “Americans can’t find jobs” THE SAME PEOPLE who say we need to grant amnesty to Illegal aliens because Americans won’t do those jobs?

    And if you’re one of those people, surely you are aware that there are PLENTY of jobs for unemployed Americans that are currently being held by people who shouldn’t be here in the 1st place.

    And if you think those jobs are beneath Americans but not Mexicans… doesn’t that make you a racist?

    Wouldn’t cutting unemployment befits and deporting illegal aliens be a “two-fer”?

    Actually, MORE than a two-fer since we would save MILLIONS of dollars in unemployment checks, MILLIONS MORE in the money we would save by not having to subsidize cheap labor NOT TO MENTION the massive increase we would see in taxes collected from the formerly unemployed.

    I’ve never been a proponent of mass deportation but unless someone can shine a light on my poor math, I think I may have to reconsider my position.

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  4. R.B. Fish says:

    Forget the union posters. Mike, you were supposed to create jobs and not worsen the problem by allowing more illegal immigrants to enter the country and then let taxpayers pay for they health insurance and prison costs.

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  5. bear says:

    BS. There are 3 applicants for every job out there, while corporate profits, stock prices, subsidies and tax evasion are at record highs.

    Why should anyone be hired for anything when it is more profitable to make the existing workforce do more with less? The average age of a fast food worker is now 29, so don’t give me this crap about minimum wages or living wages. These are no longer jobs for high school kids. Just ask the kids.

    People without money wind up on the street. They do not spend money they don’t have, which helps kill economic and job growth. Hopefully, they don’t wind up camping in your yard.

    Republicans have a great explanation for this “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.” I’m sure they have some Biblical reference for this position. Is it in the Book of James?

    Do you REALLY think that folks avoid work for a max benefit of $300/week? Do you not think they would take a living wage instead? You haven’t lived on the edge – and how did you avoid this? I avoided it by working my ass off from age 15 and putting up with 35 years of BS. Not from Mommy.

    Fortunately, they already have a great description of where our economy is heading. It’s call “feudalism.”

    Look it up.

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  6. Reality Check says:

    The data shows clearly that when unemployment benefits expire, some people accept jobs they otherwise wouldn’t have.

    How about we count the value of that productive labor? Have we slipped so far as to believe that an unemployment check is better than a job? Apparently so. I see plenty of help wanted signs.

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