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Davis Opening Statement: Hearing on Moving from Unemployment Checks to Paychecks: Implementing Recent Reforms
As we all know, we have been paying record Unemployment Insurance benefits for years now. Despite characterizations by some on the other side that this is the best stimulus money can buy, we know that the U.S. labor market remains in near-critical condition today:
Yet even those grim figures miss some major problems. For example, beyond the 12.7 million unemployed and 5.3 million long-term unemployed, millions more have simply stopped looking for a job. As this chart shows, the unemployment rate would be 11 percent today if these discouraged workers were counted as officially unemployed:
To address this desperate need to change direction, in February 2012 Congress passed and the President signed into law legislation originating from this Committee containing historic reforms of the nation’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) system. When that legislation passed, the headlines often focused on how it extended Federal unemployment benefits through the end of the year – with shortened durations and greater focus on the highest unemployment States. But the legislation contained much more, including what the Administration described last week as “the first major overhaul of the Unemployment Insurance system in decades.” I would echo that sentiment.
The American people need these reforms to take effect quickly and to work effectively.