Since the beginning of the Great Recession, 15 million Americans have lost their jobs. Almost half of them have been out of work for six months or more, and there are currently nearly five workers actively seeking work for every available job, compared to just 1.5 workers per opening before the recession.
In fact, so many jobs were lost during the recession that even if we added 218,000 private-sector jobs each month from now on, which is the highest monthly payroll increase seen in the private sector so far this year, it would still take almost five years to get to normal.
Despite these miserable statistics, the Senate has been unable to extend job benefits because of a Republican filibuster, which was joined by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). On three separate occasions, Democrats tried to break the filibuster but were unsuccessful. Last night, they came within one vote, as Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) finally signed on, but still the extension failed to pass.
Though no senator voting to continue the filibuster should be allowed to escape culpability, many senators voting to sustain it are from states that have been hit particularly hard by the unemployment crisis and have a particular responsibility to get relief to those who, through no fault of their own, are now out of work. Here are the 17 senators from states with double-digit unemployment who are willing to leave their constituents without a safety net:
|Senator(s)||State||Unemployment Rate||Votes Against Cloture (Out Of Three)|
|Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby (R)||Alabama||10.8%||Three each|
|Sen. George LeMieux (R)||Florida||10.4%||Three|
|Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson (R)||Georgia||10.2%||Three each|
|Sen. Richard Lugar (R)||Indiana||10.0%||Three|
|Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning (R)||Kentucky||10.4%||Three each|
|Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran (R)||Mississippi||11.4%||Three each|
|Sen. John Ensign (R)||Nevada||14.0%||Three|
|Sen. Richard Burr (R)||North Carolina||10.3%||Three|
|Sen. George Voinivich||Ohio||10.7%||Three|
|Sen. Lindsey Graham||South Carolina||11.0%||Two (Missed vote on 6/17)|
|Sen. Jim DeMint||South Carolina||11.0%||Two (Missed vote on 6/30)|
|Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander (R)||Tennessee||10.4%||Three each|
1.3 million people have lost their benefits this month alone, and this is actually an historic step on the part of the Senate, as “never before has Congress cut off benefits when unemployment was so high.” In fact, “the highest unemployment rate at which these extensions were allowed to expire was 7.2 percent, following the 1983 recession — substantially lower than our current rate of 9.7 percent.” But perhaps Republicans in the Senate agree with Sharron Angle that unemployed people are simply “spoiled” and “afraid to get a job”?