(PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Hondros/GETTY IMAGES)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The House is considering a bill today that could help more than one million jobless Americans. It's an emergency measure, widely expected to pass, that would extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks for people living in states where the jobless rate tops 8-point-5 percent. That includes 27 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
This would be in addition to the 26 weeks of benefits that most states offer, and the federally-funded extensions of up to 53 weeks that Congress approved last year.
As this recession drags on and the jobless rate goes up, lawmakers have been under pressure to extend benefits... with governors from 22 states calling on Congress to act quickly. It's estimated that there are now more than six potential workers for each job opening - that's up from 1.7 when the recession began.
But critics say that additional unemployment payments can be a disincentive to looking for a job... and that it could be counterproductive to extend benefits now - when the economy is showing signs of recovery.
The bill's sponsor says it won't add to the deficit because it would extend a federal unemployment tax paid by employers... and require better reporting on new hires so the government doesn't keep paying them unemployment benefits. Senate Democrats say they'll address the measure as soon as the House votes.
State unemployment checks are around $300 a week, plus another $25 from the stimulus act. The national unemployment rate is now at 9.7 percent and expected to be above 10 percent for much of next year.
Here’s my question to you: Should Congress keep extending unemployment benefits?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Marion from Birmingham, Alabama writes:
Obama needs to continue extending unemployment benefits until he gets re-elected, or he may be a one-termer.
Steve from Chula Vista, California writes:
Their idea to extend the unemployment tax on businesses to cover more weeks of unemployment is a job killer. As small business owners in California, we are hanging on by a thread and may not make it if things don't turn around soon. To extend and add more taxes will deter us from doing any hiring; the jobs lost won't be easily replaced.
If anyone thinks that unemployment is a disincentive to looking for a job, then they really should try it. Some people are so out-of-touch with the reality of the situation. It is not like there are decent or even not-decent jobs out there. Day laborers don't get work either! Unemployment is 13.5% in Nevada. Thank god for the little money I get.
B. from Quarryville, Pennsylvania writes:
Yes, I think they should extend unemployment. I can remember back during the Reagan years when I got laid off. If it was not for Congress extending unemployment, I would not have made it. If we can find money to bail out Wall Street then we should find the money to help people who lost their jobs because of Wall Street.
Stephanie from Davie, Florida writes:
No. I've known people on unemployment. The hardworking ones were off of it ASAP and took the first available job – even if it was a bad one. The lazy ones stayed on it as long as they were allowed. Extending it would only help the people who didn't plan on finding a new job anyway or are too picky to find ANY job that pays!
Of course they should, Jack. Unemployment benefits are the best stimulus check the government can give since it goes directly back into the economy via living expenses that many Americans are struggling to pay!