LANSING – State Representative Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) said today the U.S. Congress needs to act immediately to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (EUCP). This is a federal program providing additional unemployment benefits to individuals who have exhausted their regular benefits provided under the unemployment insurance system. Rep. Roberts is the sponsor of House Resolution 275, encouraging Congress to extend these benefits.

“Michigan has the third-highest unemployment rate of all states, and as many as 44,000 unemployed Michiganders lost their unemployment checks when Congress failed to act by the end of 2013,” said Rep. Roberts. “With Michigan’s unemployment benefits limited to 20 weeks, and with Republicans refusing to even discuss an increase in the minimum wage, we need action at the federal level to allow unemployed workers to keep providing for their families while they search for work.”

The EUCP provides at least 14 weeks of additional unemployment benefits in all states, but for states with a high rate of unemployment, like Michigan, the program provides up to 47 additional weeks. A law passed by Congress in 2012 amended this program allowing it to expire at the end of 2013.

House Democrats are also fighting to raise the minimum wage. Rep. Roberts is a co-sponsor of House Bill 4386, which would raise the state minimum wage from an hourly rate of $7.40 to an hourly rate of $9.

“With Michigan’s unemployment rate at 8.4 percent, we can argue that we are in an emergency and that we need Congress to restore this federal program to help these struggling workers and their families,” said Rep. Roberts. “Restoring the emergency unemployment compensation will also help our state economy and the local businesses where these families shop for groceries and other necessities.”