As we’ve already noted, Congress’ failure to renew federal emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless is already hurting tens of thousands of out-of-work New Jerseyans, as well as the state’s economy. New Jersey, after all, has the largest share of long-term unemployed of all 50 states due to its stumbling economic recovery and dismal job market.
And the longer lawmakers dither, the more damage will be inflicted on the Garden State – an estimated quarter of a million out-of-work New Jerseyans stand to lose this crucial lifeline if benefits are not restored this year.
What was left out of our initial conversation on jobless benefits was how their abrupt end harms New Jersey’s children.
The Garden State has the eighth-highest share of children who have a parent who has been out of work for at least 6 months, according to a new analysis by the Urban Institute. There are 77,400 children – or 3.9 percent of all the state’s kids – whose long-term unemployed parents have now been cut off from unemployment benefits. That’s a 381 percent jump from 2007, when just 16,100 New Jersey children had a long-term unemployed parent – a clear sign that the recession is nowhere near over for most working New Jerseyans.
We already know that eliminating emergency unemployment benefits depresses New Jersey’s economy and pushes the long-term jobless into further despair and often on to government assistance. Children, meanwhile, are also affected, and the effects get worse the longer the parents are out of work.
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