Call for the Restoration and Protection of Unemployment Benefits

APA sent a letter to all members of Congress urging restoration and protection of unemployment benefits

On behalf of the American Psychological Association with a membership of over 134,000 university professors, clinicians, researchers, graduate students, and other professionals across the country, I am writing to urge you to extend emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) for millions of Americans who are struggling to find jobs. Our field has long documented the psychological consequences of unemployment, and what is clear is that these negative impacts can be prevented in large measure through continuing the EUC program.

EUC is a lifeline to workers with families who have no other source of income during periods of high unemployment. We are very concerned about the plight of the 1.3 million unemployed workers who faced a harsh termination of their EUC benefits on December 28th. Another three million jobless workers will lose their EUC benefits this year if Congress does not act soon.

Since the Great Depression in the 1930s, psychologists have studied the psychological impact of unemployment. Unemployed workers have worse mental health, less marital or family satisfaction, and poorer physical health than those with stable employment. Unemployment is associated with psychological problems like depression and anxiety and can also contribute to reduced life expectancy. The stress of unemployment can lead to changes in family relationships that result in negative outcomes for children, including more punitive and arbitrary parenting. Without the basic safety net that EUC provides for the long-term unemployed, the negative effects of unemployment on families are likely to be exacerbated, especially for children who are particularly vulnerable to the health consequences of deprivation.

Unemployment benefits kept 1.7 million unemployed workers from falling into poverty in 2012. Without those benefits, we can be sure that millions more will fall into the ranks of the poor due to a lack of jobs. The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at seven percent, and millions of Americans are searching for work in a sluggish recovery following the Great Recession. There are still three unemployed workers for every job opening. Four million workers (over one-third of the 11 million unemployed) have experienced long-term unemployment, having been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. For millions, EUC provides the only chance a family has to meet basic needs, like stable shelter and food.

It is too soon to discontinue jobless benefits for millions of American workers. We urge you to renew EUC as soon as possible so that the families of unemployed workers do not fall into poverty and suffer related psychological problems. If you have any questions or are in need of further information, please contact Dr. Roberta Downing at (202) 336-5931 in our Public Interest Government Relations Office.

Norman B. Anderson, PhD
Chief Executive Officer