December 20, 2011

Women and the Failure to Extend Unemployment Insurance

NewsThe remnants of the Great Recession, which continue to cast a financial shadow over the lives of millions of American families, still demand constant attention and steps continue to be taken at the federal level to offset the devastating effects increased unemployment has wrought over the past several years. For every job opening, there are currently four people seeking employment. More and more, these individuals are finding it difficult to obtain extended unemployment benefits to provide basic living necessities for themselves and their families.

Congress is in the midst of talks to determine the appropriate actions to take in the face of a lapse of the federal unemployment insurance program. The Census Bureau reports that every government dollar spent on unemployment insurance generates nearly two dollars in economic activity, indicating that the benefits program provides a healthy lift to the economy while supporting nearly one million jobs and raising the GDP by 1 percent in 2010. The federal unemployment insurance program is on the verge of expiring without Congressional action to extend benefits beyond the December 31, 2011 deadline.

The rising importance of a woman’s income on the financial welfare of her family, especially in single-parent households (most headed by women), is made clear from the effects a loss of unemployment benefits would have on this vulnerable population. With the expiration of benefits at the end of the year, nearly 2.5 million women, and their 3.6 million children, will lose the only regular source of income available and potentially fall into poverty.

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Rachel, writer for, has graduate level work in literature and currently works in university administration.