No lapse

Published 8:20 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

While some economists point to statistics that show small improvements in employment and new housing, it’s clear that the recession’s impact is still being acutely felt by millions of people across the United States.

The unemployment rate in Georgia is 10.5 percent and it’s 11.2 percent in Southwest Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Those without a job, or with only part-time employment after the loss of a full-time job, have been encouraged to go back to school for job training or continue to search for more jobs. In a rural area like Southwest Georgia, jobs can be few and far between.

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That’s why unemployment insurance benefits for people who are having a hard time finding a new job is very important while the economy recovers.

The U.S. Congress has extended the benefits four times since July 2008, most recently in February 2010. At the time, some members of Congress threatened to vote against renewing the benefits because lawmakers could not stipulate how to pay for them, as required by a recent federal “pay-as-you-go” law.

But now the benefits have run out again for people who have exhausted their normal unemployment benefits, as of April 4.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who visited Bainbridge Friday, said he intended to vote against another extension, which the Senate is expected to consider when it returns on April 19, unless their estimated $10 billion cost could be made up for without incurring more debt.

Members of both parties in Congress need to come together and work out a solution. To fail to extend the life buoy that unemployment insurance provides to those who have been without a job for so long would be the wrong thing to do.

Unemployed Americans have been cutting out any expenses not related to their families’ basic needs; the federal government needs to take the same approach.