It’s not a talking point you might expect from the Obama White House, but in its zeal to extend unemployment benefits, an administration report says more people are unemployed and without a job for longer now than in 2008, when benefits were extended under the Bush administration.
“The long-term unemployment rate (2.6 percent in October) is at least twice as high as it was at the expiration of every previous extended [unemployment insurance] benefits program,” said the report released Thursday by the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Labor Department.
The administration is pushing Congress to again extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or EUC, beyond the 26 weeks that state benefits run out. The Republican-controlled House opposes the initiative, citing studies that say benefits depressed job creation since 2008 because companies are forced to increase wages to attract workers. The extended benefits are set to end Dec. 28.
“In this cycle, EUC was first signed into law in June 2008 by President Bush when the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent and the average duration of unemployment was 17.1 weeks,” the report states. “Today, as of October 2013, the unemployment rate is 7.3 percent and the average duration of unemployment is 36.1 weeks.”
The report continues, “The unemployment rate (7.3 percent in October) is currently higher than it was at the expiration of any previous extended UI benefits program.”
If Congress doesn’t act, according to the White House, 3.6 million people will lose their benefits by the end of 2014.
The report states that 24 million Americans have received the extended jobless benefits, while last year, the unemployment benefits lifted 2.5 million out of poverty.
The report further says that cutting the extension would harm the economy by reducing demand and costing 240,000 jobs in 2014.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the extension would cost $25 billion, but could stimulate the economy by 0.2 percent.