New Poll Shows Strong Public Support for Extending Unemployment Benefits
November 15, 2010 - Posted by Ron Bigler
With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent, a clear majority of Americans thinks it is premature for Congress to start cutting off extended unemployment benefits to workers, according to a new poll by Hart Research Associates.
Support for extending unemployment benefits was high across political affiliations, with 83 percent of Democratic, 80 percent of independent, and 55 percent of Republican voters saying they agree that it is too early to start cutting unemployment benefits.
In addition to testing views on emergency unemployment benefits, Hart Research polling found that only 18 percent of voters think Congress should reduce the federal deficit by cutting programs that support low-income families. More specifically, the polling found that "by a very robust 79% to 14%, voters favor Congress continuing to fund the
TANF Emergency Program, which is described as states partnering with the private sector to create temporary subsidized jobs to move low-income parents from welfare to work."
"Americans understand how hard it is out there, with only one job opening for every five unemployed workers. That's why people not only want to see jobless benefits continue – they want them to continue until the jobless rate significantly improves. Indeed, Congress has never cut benefits when unemployment is this high," said Melissa Boteach, Campaign Manager for Half in Ten, in a press statement.
As one of their top priorities for the lame duck Congress, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and its coalition partners are calling on Congress to pass an extension of emergency unemployment benefits. With the current extension of benefits set to expire on November 30, the National Employment Law Project warns that two million laid-off workers and their families would face the loss of benefits in December. Most states only provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, and the benefits typically cover only a percentage of a worker's previous weekly income. States also place a cap on benefits. In New York, for example, weekly unemployment benefits are limited to $405.
"This is about helping two million jobless workers put food on their tables, keep roofs over their heads, keep homes warm at night, and keep hope alive until the private sector begins to hire again These are the real consequences for real families in our communities and across our country," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference.
For the poll, The Hart Research Associates interviewed 802 registered voters in the United States from November 5 to 8, 2010. The full sample has a margin of error ±3.5 percent. Hart Research has made a memo and PowerPoint on the results available online.