Three million jobs for fifteen million unemployed? Realizing just how bleak the employment prospects are for the more than fifteen million jobless individuals with 7,000 more added everyday, the Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to provide additional assistance to jobless workers who have already used up their benefits.

Streched-timeLonger Unemployment Aid

In a 98-0 vote, Senators passed H.R. 3548 which extends jobless benefits by another 14 weeks, and up to 20 weeks in areas where the unemployment rate is above 8.5%. The current unemployment rate across the country is 9.8%.

Such assistance will go a long way in states like Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, and California which have been hardest hit by unemployment at rates of 15.3%, 13.3%, 13.0% and 12.2% respectively as of September 2009. In these states, jobless individuals could enjoy up to 99 weeks of benefits, which average about $300 per week.

The proposed measure will apply to those whose jobless benefits will be exhausted by the end of this year, although those who have already stopped receiving checks may apply for another round.

“We did the right thing today by passing this bill and doing it in a fiscally responsible way,” said Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who was one of the authors of the bill. “Today, we gave unemployed Americans the chance they need to get back on their feet, get through this tough time and get working again,” he added.

Tax Credit for First Time Home Buyers Extended

As an added provision to the unemployment benefits extension bill, the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers has also been extended and expanded to include other groups of people other than new homeowners, as an added boost to the slowly recovering housing market.

Although previously set to expire by the end of this month, the passage of the legislation effectively extends the $8,000 tax break for first-time home buyers program to April 2010. More significantly, the newly-passed bill grants a $6,500 tax refund for homeowners who want to own a new home, provided they have lived in their current residence for five consecutive years within the past eight years.

The $10 billion program however, is limited to homes with purchase prices below $800,000. In addition, individuals who earn more than $125,000 per year, and couples who make at least $225,000 annually, are not qualified to avail of the tax credit.

Long Way to Success

These developments come after weeks of debate in the Senate which started last September, when the initial version of the proposed legislation extended benefits only to the 27 states with unemployment rates above 8.5%. Senators of states with lower unemployment rates rallied that the extension should cover all jobless workers in all states. Then Republican senators also held up the extension bill over negotiations on amendments of other bills.

But while it may have taken them quite some time, the US Senate finally pulled through in its overwhelming approval of the proposed measure. The bill now moves to the House, where it is also expected to be passed, then on to the White House for the President’s signature.

Did you enjoy this article? Yes No
Oops! What was wrong? Please let us know.

Ask a Question

  • Momof2WifeofaVet

    Enjoy collecting 99 weeks of benefits? Enjoy? Are you serious? I’ll be one of the UNlucky ones to collect for 99 weeks and there hasn’t been an ounce enjoyment in it. You obviously have no idea what it’s like to be an educated and skilled individual that travels across 4 states, regularly, looking for work only to be told I’m over qualified. You have no idea what it’s like to have borrowed so much money from so many people just to make only to have them hate to see you coming. You have no idea what it’s like to be on your last roll of toilet paper and there’s no money in site or the future. I suppose you’ve always had a job or come from a family with money. If so, good for you. That’s wonderful. I wish I could be so lucky. But don’t assume that we unfortunate folks that HAVE to collect the unemployment we’ve EARNED enjoy it. Getting unemployment is no joy. It’s only a fraction of what I used to make and believe me, I’ve cut down to the bone. I’m tired of merely existing. I’m ready to live again, but there are no jobs to be had! We’ve had to beg and borrow and our very own government, the ones we, correction, you elected (I’m a Democrat) held it up for weeks with unrelated crap. If you’re not a Republican, forgive my assumption, but can you see my frustration? Our elected officials that are supposed to have American citizens’ best interest at heart are full of @#$!. They put their selfish interests before the needs of the American worker and for what? A home-buyer tax credit? A business tax break? That’s all well and good, but neither have anything to do with the DIRE needs of the unemployed. Enjoyment? Not at all. It’s called survival.

  • notsofunemployed

    len penzo is an inconsiderate bully and should look at the big picture before speaking out on things not just the picture that len penzos immature friends paint for len penzo unemployment system hasn't changed at all ,only people who qualify can recieve benefits its not a system you can simply choose to be on.

  • kevinfd

    Len Penzo needs realize that this bill while helping the hundreds of thousands of unemployed who have exhausted benefits will also keep the power, water, mortgage companys from taking losses, boost retail sales this holiday season, keep crime down and keep the homeless rate down. Len Penzo needs to realize that having a blog, a job, or even a senate seat doesn't mean you know what you're talking about. Len Penzo needs to thank others in goverment for allowing companys to sell off a large percentage of our jobs years ago. Len Penzo needs to step out in the real world and realize there is no “stacking boxes” job that pays $15/hr. And that most states don't pay $12/hr UE benefits.

    Len Penzo by all accounts, should drink a big glass of STFU.

  • Len Penzo

    @Shar: To be exact the maximum benefits are the equivalent of $11.88 per hour. The fact that the benefits are taxed is irrelevant, since all wages are taxed.

    @Kevinfd: Len Penzo says he's all out of STFU, but try to have a nice day anyway.

  • Joemyer1

    I think the added benefits are great. I am a 59 year old male, worked since I was 16, served in the armed forces from 1969-1971. At one time I( made over 65,000 a year as manager in a printing company. After being replaced by the company presidents friend, I took lesser paying jobs in the printing industry. My last job, the whole shift got laid off and now there are no printing jobs because all of the companies downsized. I tried for entry level jobs in other fields but no company wants to take time to train a 59 year old man, I still look but I have to rely on unemployment and my girlfriend in order to keep up with my mortgage payments. i used up my retirement money and defaulted on my credit card payments. Still I keep looking for a job every day so I can get off this free ride.(It belittles me that I cannot support myself) Joe Myer South Carolina