“The jobs are still not there,” says Edith Harrison, 59, who lives in Colorado Springs and was laid off from her job at a senior assisted living facility in August. “How can you cut unemployment benefits off, and blame someone for not being able to get a job, when they didn’t create the situation?”
The anti-poverty effect of unemployment insurance is significant and undeniable. In 2010, the program lifted 3.2 million people above the poverty line (less than $18,000 for a family of three). In 2011, it lifted 2.3 million people above the line, including 620,000 children. (The program had less of a poverty reducing effect last year in part because a provision in the Recovery Act that paid an additional $25 per week in benefits was allowed to expire.) The average benefit is just $291 per week and it covers approximately 40 percent of a typical family’s food, housing and transportation costs.