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99ers again lobbying Congress to extend unemployment benefits

Letters Out of the nearly 15 million Americans out of work in October, 42% had been jobless for 27 weeks or more. More than half will have exhausted jobless benefits by the end of the year. So they're doing what they have the time to do, since they can't find work: ask for help.

This time, their campaign is especially pressing. On Nov. 30, all federal unemployment benefit programs will expire, unless Congress decides to renew them.

The 99ers, as they call themselves, because many run out of unemployment benefits after 99 weeks, have already joined together in a number of unions, advocacy groups and support networks. On Friday, they're starting a new push on Congress.

The American 99ers Union, a conglomeration of 19 of these groups, is kicking off a letter-writing campaign that will ask Congress to extend unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks.

"As one of your constituents, and a member of The American 99ers Union * I felt it imperative to bring to your attention that according to exit polls from the November 2nd mid-term elections, Americans’ primary concerns are jobs and the economy, and they need our elected officials to do something about it, now!" the letter reads.

The idea of extending unemployment benefits, while unpopular among deficit hawks, has been supported by many economists. The Economic Policy Institute says that extending unemployment insurance through 2011 could save 488,000 payroll jobs.

Senate Bill 3706, the Americans Want to Work Act, would extend benefits in hard-hit states. But it has, so far, not gotten much traction in Congress.

The 99ers recent petition addresses that.

"Stimulating the economy can best be done -- according to leading economists -- by creating jobs and giving "99ers" extended benefits that will allow them to purchase goods and services," the letter says.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: a.drian via Flickr

 
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