The White House Wednesday called on Congress to make its first legislation of the new year the restoration of unemployment insurance for Americans whose benefits have expired.
More than one million Americans lost their jobless benefits last week. White House economist Gene Sperling said in a statement that restoring the benefits would not only help those individuals, but also lead to the creation of 200,000 jobs and economic growth.
“Failing to extend emergency unemployment insurance through 2014 will negatively impact 14 million Americans – the 4.9 million workers who will see unemployment insurance cut off and the approximately 9 million additional family members they are supporting,” Sperling said. “But if Congress does the right thing and acts to extend emergency unemployment benefits through 2014, it is estimated to lead to 200,000 jobs and a fifth of a point of additional economic growth.”
Under the benefits program, the government provided an average monthly stipend of $1,166. However, an extension was dropped from a budget deal struck in December and Republican lawmakers have balked at its $26 billion annual cost.
The White House is backing a bill that would temporarily extend the benefits for three months.