Millions of unemployed Americans, including thousands in Kansas, could lose jobless benefits if Congress doesn’t act soon, state labor officials and workers’ advocates said Monday.
“There really is no time to wait,” said Kansas Secretary of Labor Jim Garner. “The welfare of our states, and of millions of families, is at risk.”
The national unemployment rate stands at 10 percent, and the Kansas rate is 6.4 percent.
Advocates urged Congress to renew the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s unemployment provisions, many of which are set to expire this month.
Garner called for extension of emergency unemployment compensation, which has already paid out $225 million in jobless benefits in Kansas.
He and others also called for continuance of a federal subsidy for health care benefits for the unemployed. The government subsidy reduces the cost of COBRA coverage for an average unemployed worker by about $720 per month. And they urged continuance of a $25 per week addition to benefits.
“Unfortunately, the job market is not seeing the same signs of recovery that have been evident for the remainder of the economy,” Garner said.
“Until we begin to see improvement in the labor market, keeping these critical benefits available to the millions of people without work due to this recession will be imperative,” he said.
Congress is set to adjourn Dec. 18 barring a decision to extend the session.