The ''safety net'' of unemployment benefits has been pulled out from under millions of jobless workers, the AFL-CIO says.
Monitor contributor Ed Townsend reports that the union called on Congress to repeal ''punitive cutbacks'' voted in last year's ''budget-slashing binge.'' An AFL-CIO spokeswoman, Arleen Gilliam, says only 30 states are continuing to pay extended benefits and the number is dropping month by month as unemployment worsens. The national jobless rate is currently 9.5 percent and appears to be climbing.
Maine and Arkansas were dropped from the benefits program July 3, and New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Missouri in June. Further tightening of unemployment compensation rules in September, voted by Congress in 1981, will have more negative impact on the long-term jobless, according to Ms. Gilliam, by denying at least 13 additional weeks of benefits to 1.1 million workers whose regular 26 weeks of benefits will then have run out.
Federal policy in the past has been to add additional weeks of coverage, to a total of 52 to 60 weeks, rather than to cut back.
Meanwhile, a new profile on employment in May showed that only three states had lower jobless levels than a year ago. Employment declined in 35 states and the District of Columbia and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13 states and the District have jobless rates over 10 percent. In the 10 most populated states, rates range from a relatively low 6.4 percent in May in Texas to 14.3 percent in Michigan. Including all 50 states, North Dakota, at 4.3 percent, was the lowest.