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Area’s jobless need help, not handout

Congressman Artur Davis voted today in support of H.R. 3548, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009, which will extend unemployment benefits for more than 37,000 Alabamians.

The is especially helpful for the Black Belt Region, whose unemployment rate on average is the highest in the state.

The extension will apply to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 27 states that have the highest unemployment, including Alabama, which recently reported a 10.4-percent unemployment rate.

“More than 37,000 Alabamians, many of whom live in the 7th District, were on the verge of seeing their unemployment benefits expire in December” stated Congressman Artur Davis. “They will view this 13-week extension of unemployment benefits as a lifeline. The extension of these benefits should also remind us of the plight of 5,500 Alabamians who have been left without help because of our state’s refusal to draw down federal funds for part-time workers who have lost their jobs.”

Many of the benefits that would have expired could have hit close to home. Employees that were cut at Linden Lumber nearly a year ago, those affected by paper mills closing in Monroeville and business attrition in the private sector, all would have been dealt another blow if they have since been unable to find employment.

H.R 3548 would amend the current Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program to provide up to another 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for states experiencing particularly high unemployment (with a three-month average total unemployment rate (TUR) of 8.5 percent, or a 13-week insured unemployment rate (IUR) above 6 percent), where it is more difficult for people to find new jobs. The 7th district includes the three counties in Alabama with the highest unemployment, including Wilcox County, which has an unemployment rate of 25 percent.

This extension, while generous, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Signs are pointing to a slow economic recovery, and we hope those who have been granted this good news are able to secure employment in the near future.

Otherwise, this entire effort was all not naught.