Today the HERVotes Coalition is hosting a blog carnival (follow posts from across the country on twitter via the #HERVotes hashtag) about women and the economy, and in particular unemployment insurance. I know, I know. Unemployment insurance. Glamorous stuff.
But that’s just the thing. Unemployment insurance, like so many aspects of the down economy — the foreclosure crisis, stock market crashes, record-setting demand for public assistance, and hemorrhaging employment numbers — isn’t sexy. But damn if it isn’t vitally important to a lot people, particularly women. And time is running out for millions of women who face a cut off on Dec. 31 if Congress doesn’t act.
According to information provided to me by the National Women’s Law Center:
Unless Congress acts before December 31st to renew federal unemployment insurance, nearly 2 million people will be cut off in the month of January alone. Millions more would have this critical lifeline cut off in the near future – over 6 million would lose these benefits during 2012.
A failure to extend unemployment insurance will hurt women–with an estimated 2.6 million women affected by the UI extension. Further, Ellie reports that Dr. Adriana Kugler, chief economist for the Dept. of Labor, said that 2.2 million women, 900,000 Latinos, 1.2 million African Americans, and 3.6 million children will be directly affected by the failure to extend unemployment insurance benefits by Dec 31.
Unemployment insurance isn’t just good for families struggle to make ends meet, it is also good for the economy. Extending unemployment insurance will immediately help keep 1.8 million families afloat–and will also continue to support our struggling economy. How does it help our economy, you might ask? Well, studies show that the money received as part of unemployment insurance is usually spent right away, and as a result, an independent study found that every $1 spent on employment insurance stimulated $2 in growth in the U.S. economy.
Just like all aspects of pay equity, women are struggling to get the jobless benefits that they have already paid for in the system. Women already have to work an extra 100 days to equal the earnings of a man in one calendar year. In fact, if there were pay equity in wages, it would equal an extra 8 months’ worth of groceries for a family of four.
Now I know what you’re thinking: What does pay equity have to do with unemployment benefits? Well, for one thing, unemployment benefits are an extension of the benefits you get from paid work, because it’s a system you pay into while you are working. But like so many parts of the Salary Divide, women feel the pinch more when unemployment benefits are at stake.
And all this is a big deal in a town like Las Vegas, which has been hit harder than almost any city in America by the bad economy. We lead the nation in foreclosures, bankruptcies, jobless rates, and applications for public assistance. We can’t afford to leave anything on the table.
So, if you want to help stem poverty in our communities; to lessen the need for programs like food stamps and welfare; to curb the rate of homelessness… then it’s time to speak up! Tell Congress to do the right thing and approve the unemployment insurance extension!
Cross-posted on The Tired Feminist.