Monday, February 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Jobless benefits need extension

With both parties motivated to avoid another government shutdown, Congress appears close to a bipartisan budget deal. But any deal needs to include extending emergency federal unemployment benefits. The job market remains tough and long-term unemployment is still high. The added weeks of benefits are an essential lifeline for families and will keep more of them from falling through the government's safety net.

The nation's job market is slowly improving. Last month, the economy added 203,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7 percent, the lowest in five years. But the average unemployed worker is still out of a job for 36 weeks — more than 20 weeks longer than prerecession levels — and longer than the standard 26 weeks of unemployment benefits most states offer. Florida is even less generous due to a shortsighted initiative pushed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. Florida benefits range from 12 to 23 weeks based on the state's unemployment rate. This year, Floridians qualify for up to 19 weeks of benefits, a short time frame that has been cushioned by the additional 27.2 weeks of emergency federal benefits.

If the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is not renewed by Congress, 1.3 million people will be abruptly cut off in the week between Christmas and New Year's. Next year that number will grow to nearly 5 million people shut out of income support, including 260,400 in Florida. Such policy is disruptive to families — unemployment compensation allows families to stay in their homes and maintain stability while looking for work. Benefits also stabilize the economy. Estimates are that without the federal unemployment benefits flowing, an estimated 240,000 jobs will be lost, more than 10,000 of those in Florida.

Extending unemployment benefits does not encourage malingering and joblessness, despite what congressional Republicans claim. Society gains when workers are given the ability to look for a job commensurate with their skills and experience — which was the point of unemployment insurance. A laid-off mid level executive who isn't so financially desperate that he takes a job as a restaurant dishwasher can find a better-paying job. Then his family won't need public assistance. And he can return to the ranks of being a contributing taxpayer sooner.

Extending unemployment keeps Americans out of poverty. Though the benefits are modest, an average of about $300 per week nationally and $232 per week in Florida, they are enough to keep families afloat. Shut the program down and the need will simply shift to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, and other government safety net programs for the poor.

Florida's unemployment rate of 6.7 percent is still high. Unemployed workers outnumber available jobs in every industry. Ending federal benefits would harm the state and Florida families.

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Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

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Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

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Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

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Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

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Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18