The official unemployment rate in Georgia is 10.2 percent, which means that more than one of 10 Georgians who want a job can’t find one. Unfortunately, that number that doesn’t fully describe how widespread the problem has become, because it doesn’t include those who have simply stopped looking in an economy in which a single advertised job can attract thousands of applicants.
All in all, almost 240,000 jobs have disappeared from Georgia in the last year.
Last night, the U.S. House of Representative voted 331-83 in favor of a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits in high-unemployment states, defined as those with an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent or higher for the last three months. That would include Georgia and 28 other states. The check isn’t a lot — it maxes out at $355 a week here in Georgia — but for many households it’s the only income they can depend upon.
(UPDATE: I just got off the phone with the state Department of Labor. According to their estimates, as many as 40,000 Georgians would lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the year — and in many cases their only source of income — without legislation extending those benefits.)
Six of Georgia’s 13 congressmen voted AGAINST extending unemployment benefits to fellow Georgians out of work.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, Phone (202) 225-4101
U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville, Phone (202) 225-5211
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, Phone (202) 202-225-2931
U.S. Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth, Phone (202) 225-4272
U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, Phone (202) 225-4501
U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Coweta County, Phone (202) 225-5901
I’ve included the Washington phone numbers of each of those congressmen just in case anybody wanted to phone their office to make their opinions heard. If you hear any interesting explanations for the vote, feel free to post those responses in the comments below.
I should also note that the bill next makes its way to the U.S. Senate, where Johnny Isakson (202-224-3643) and Saxby Chambliss (202-224-3521) will be asked to vote on it.