Press Release

With 55,700 Unemployed Western New Yorkers, Gillibrand Fights To Extend Emergency Unemployment Assistance For Struggling Families

Dec 5, 2010

Buffalo, NY – With 55,700 Western New Yorkers out of work and approximately 14,390 about to lose the emergency unemployment insurance assistance they depend on, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is fighting to extend long-term unemployment insurance benefits through the end of 2011.

Without an extension, approximately 200,000 total New Yorkers will lose their benefits by the end of this year, and will nearly double to approximately 400,000 by May of 2011. More than 40,000 New York jobs will be lost by December 2011 from cutting emergency unemployment benefits now, according to a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

“Emergency unemployment assistance is not only vital for families across New York, it is critical for our overall economy,” Senator Gillibrand said. “For many families, this assistance is the sole source of income, and their only way to put food on the table and meet basic needs during the Winter season. They can’t afford to be cut off now. We need to make sure we’re providing emergency assistance for New Yorkers who are out of work by no fault of their own. Instead of looking out for those most in need or for our overall economy, Republicans would rather continue Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. That’s the kind of spending our economy can’t afford.”

“I commend Senator Gillibrand in her effort to support our residents who are either out of work, are under employed or are struggling to make ends meet,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “I agree with Senator Gillibrand that unemployment benefits should be extended by Congress for the millions of Americans who have been hurt by the effects of the national recession.”

Of the more than 800,000 New Yorkers who are currently out of work and the 15 million people unemployed across the country, nearly half have been jobless for more than 6 months. 

Specifically, Senator Gillibrand’s proposal would extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which provides additional weeks of unemployment insurance in states hard hit by the recession, including New York, through December of 2011.  Additionally, it would continue full federal financing for the Extended Benefits (EB) program, which provides an additional 20 weeks of benefits for individuals out of work through no fault of their own.  Under current state law, New Yorkers would lose these benefits if they were not fully funded by the federal government.      

In addition to being a lifeline for families and individuals to meet basic needs as they look for new jobs, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that unemployment insurance benefits are the most effective measure to fight the economic recession. In fact, each dollar invested in unemployment benefits doubles its economic return as families who rely on these benefits spend them immediately on basic necessities. 

In 2009, 3 million Americans avoided poverty as a result of unemployment insurance benefits.