President Obama's Weekly Address: Improving Economic Security by Strengthening and Modernizing the Unemployment Insurance System
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
January 16, 2016
Hi, everybody. On Tuesday, I gave my final State of the Union Address. And a focus was this: how do we make the new economy work better for everyone, not just those at the top?
After the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we’re in the midst of the longest streak of private-sector job growth in our history. More than 14 million new jobs. An unemployment rate cut in half. At the same time, our economy continues to go through profound changes that began long before the Great Recession hit. It’s changed to the point where even when folks have jobs; even when the economy is growing; it’s harder for hardworking families to pull themselves out of poverty, harder for young people to start out on their careers, and tougher for workers to retire when they want to.
That’s a big part of the reason a lot of working families are feeling anxious. And it offends our fundamentally American belief that everybody who works hard should be able to get ahead.
That’s why we’ve been fighting so hard to give families more opportunity and more security – by working to create more good jobs, invest in our middle class, and help working people get a raise. It’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about – filling in the gaps in employer-based care so that when somebody loses a job, or goes back to school, or starts that new business, they still have health care. And it’s why I believe we’ve got to take steps to modernize our unemployment insurance system.
If a hardworking American loses her job, regardless of what state she lives in, we should make sure she can get unemployment insurance and some help to retrain for her next job. If she’s been unemployed for a while, we should reach out to her and connect her with career counseling. And if she finds a new job that doesn’t pay as much as her old one, we should offer some wage insurance that helps her pay her bills. Under my plan, experienced workers who now make less than $50,000 could replace half of their lost wages – up to $10,000 over two years. It’s a way to give families some stability and encourage folks to rejoin the workforce – because we shouldn’t just be talking about unemployment; we should be talking about re-employment.
That’s when America works best – when everyone has opportunity; when everyone has some security; and when everyone can contribute to this country we love. That’s how we make sure that hardworking families can get ahead. And that’s what I’ll be fighting for with every last day of my presidency.
Thanks everybody. Have a great weekend.
Quoting from Reuters:
U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday laid out a plan to help support the income of workers who lose their jobs and end up in lower paying positions, as part of a push to get unemployed Americans back to work.
The proposal would offer experienced workers who now make less than $50,000 a form of wage insurance, allowing them to replace half of their lost pay. The benefit would cover up to $10,000 over two years.
"It's a way to give families some stability and encourage folks to rejoin the workforce - because we shouldn't just be talking about unemployment; we should be talking about re-employment," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, broadcast on Saturday.
The wage insurance proposal will be included in a broader effort to overhaul the unemployment insurance system. Details about the program's proposed funding will be further outlined in Obama's budget for fiscal year 2017 expected to be released next month.
Obama promised in his State of the Union earlier this week to advocate for legislative action on issues with bipartisan support during his last year in office. During the address, he pointed to wage insurance as one measure where lawmakers may be able to work together.
The White House plan would require states to provide insurance for workers laid off from jobs they had held for at least three years. The plan would be federally-funded, but it would be administered through state unemployment insurance programs.
Other measures proposed by the White House on Saturday included a requirement that all states provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits, and the creation of a permanent program that would automatically provide up to 52 additional weeks of federally-funded benefits for states experiencing rapid job-losses or high unemployment.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Andrew Hay)