GDP SEES RECORD DROP AND UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS CONTINUE AT HISTORIC HIGHS AS SUSAN COLLINS REFUSES TO EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT INCOME KEEPING MAINE FAMILIES OUT OF POVERTY
The Senate Proposal to Cut Unemployment Insurance Could Affect Over 180K Mainers as Historic Downturn in the Economy Shows Few Signs of Slowing
Senator Susan Collins Says Extending Unemployment Income Doesn’t “Make Sense”
Portland, MAINE — Today, the US Commerce Department announced that the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrank at an annualized rate of 32.9% in the second quarter marking the biggest decline since record keeping began. The US Department of Labor also announced today that over one million Americans filed new claims for unemployment last week. Together, these indicators signal that the economic downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating.
This news comes as Mainers are calling on Maine Senator Susan Collins to reject the legislation proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans that would cut unemployment income tens of thousands of Maine families are relying on to make ends meet during the pandemic, by $400 a week. A report by the Maine Center for Economic Policy estimates indicates this move could hurt 182,000 Mainers — including 46,000 children, and cost the state an additional 18,000 jobs. Maine Senator Angus King estimated that the loss of income could cost the state $30 million dollars a week. Collins has thus far refused to push for the bipartisan House bill and has expressed skepticism about extending unemployment income, saying it doesn’t “make sense.”
“All indicators — unemployment, GDP, rates of infection — point to the fact that the COVID-19 crisis is very much far from over. Mainers need Susan Collins to face this reality, and to respond accordingly by ensuring that Maine families have the income support they need to weather this storm for the long haul,” said Willy Ritch, executive director of 16 Counties Coalition. “If Susan Collins is really willing to fight for the interests of Mainers, she’ll stand up to Mitch McConnell and push for extension of unemployment income for the duration of this crisis.”
According to one unemployed Mainer, Suzanne Young: “With the $600, I’m making ends meet,” Young said. “Barely making ends meet with nothing extra, but it’s doable and I don’t know what I’m going to do when the $600 goes away.”
In addition to hurting Maine families that continue to struggle as the pandemic continues, recent reports have also illustrated how loss of unemployment income will ripple through Maine’s broader economy, showing that “If that federal money were stopped, it would mean less money spent in grocery stores or getting takeout or more people not being able to afford rent.”
Senator Collins has claimed employers are reporting the $600 a-week-unemployment income is hurting their ability to retain and hire employees, yet a recent survey shows that over 80% of small business owners who responded said the unemployment income had no impact on retention or hiring. Lastly, people receiving unemployment insurance are “more likely to look for jobs,” according to a recent report from the Chicago Federal Reserve.
About the 16 Counties Coalition
The 16 Counties Coalition is a year-long grassroots advocacy campaign aimed at amplifying the voices of families and working Mainers and encouraging Senator Susan Collins to vote in favor of the people she was elected to represent and defend. The campaign will mobilize members through small- and large-scale events, through digital action, and paid television, radio, and digital ads.
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