Pelavin: With one job available for every five jobless workers, Congress must make the plight of the unemployed their first priority as they work to strengthen our economy, and the extension of unemployment benefits is vital to achieving that goal.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 2010 -- In response to the passage of H.R. 4213, the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010, which will extend unemployment insurance benefits through November and retroactively restore the benefits of over 2 million unemployed workers who have lost their benefits since the last extension expired, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We welcome the long-overdue passage of legislation extending emergency unemployment benefits to the jobless through the end of November. The path to this extension included a nearly two-month stand-off in the Senate that put the financial stability of more than 2 million unemployed Americans in jeopardy. With one job available for every five jobless workers, Congress must make the plight of the unemployed their first priority as they work to strengthen our economy, and the extension of unemployment benefits is vital to achieving that goal. Though this extension should have been adopted months ago, we are pleased the legislation will now include measures to retroactively restore benefits to more than 2 million Americans who lost their benefits in the interim.
We are taught in Leviticus, "And if your kin becomes poor and their means fail them with you, then you shall strengthen them, be they a stranger or a settler" (25:35). The unemployment rate is currently 9.5%, and nearly half of the unemployed have been jobless for six months or more. Instead of making an already difficult situation more so, members of Congress should be working to strengthen the nearly 15 million Americans who are currently jobless. The restoration of unemployment benefits is an important step in improving the lives of those affected by the recession, and we urge Congress to act with compassion as we continue to strive to meet the challenges of our weakened economy.