April 05, 2016

Watson Coleman Unveils Bills to Address Long-Term Unemployment

For Immediate Release:

Trenton, NJ (April 4, 2016) ― Today at a press conference in Trenton, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) announced two bills aimed at addressing the enduring long-term unemployment crisis.

The first, the Expanding Penalty Free Withdrawal Act, would prevent those who fit the definition of long-term unemployment from having to pay excessive fees for tapping their retirement accounts to keep themselves financially stable.  The content of the Expanding Penalty Free Withdrawal Act was included in the President’s 2016 Budget proposal.

The second, the Investing in Older Workers Act would create a work opportunity tax credit for employers, incentivizing the hiring of older Americans who fall into the long-term unemployment category to help those individuals find jobs.

“Despite what the monthly jobs report says, there are many American families for whom the economy has not improved,” said Watson Coleman.  “Americans who find themselves stuck in long term unemployment are doing their best to find work, but employers won’t give them the consideration they deserve.  Meanwhile, being jobless puts them in dire financial straits.  We’ve got to do whatever we can to help them stay afloat, and give them the chance to find jobs.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) New Jersey has the third highest percentage of long-term unemployed in the nation, with long-term unemployed making up more than 41 percent of the total unemployed population. The BLS defines long-term unemployment as individuals in the job market who have been jobless for 27 weeks or longer.

“I would like to thank Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for introducing these bills to assist the long-term unemployed in our country,” said Cliff Biroc, a victim of long-term unemployment.  “With a family of five to support, I have gone through all of my savings, my brokerage account, and have dipped into my IRA on two occasions.  Trying to maintain one’s sanity and keeping motivated is very difficult in this situation.”

“Mercer County’s One-Stop Career Center provides a vital service by offering career guidance and job training, and by connecting employers with well-prepared job seekers,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.  “In addition to the work of the Congresswoman, these types of programs are necessary to help individuals who face the long-term unemployment that plagues our state.”

"As New Jersey's largest HUD certified housing counseling agency, we saw the devastating role that long-term unemployment played in the foreclosure crisis after the financial crash,” said Beverly Brown Ruggia of New Jersey Citizen Action.  “Although programs like Homekeeper provided temporary relief for many older homeowners out of work,  getting them back to work is the best way to help them keep their homes."

"New Jersey working families are in dire need of support and the proposals put forth by Congresswoman Watson Coleman are the right approach to both incentivize growth and allow families the room to manage unemployment,” said Analilia Mejia of New Jersey Working Families.  “Workers should not continue to be penalized in their hour of need and tax incentives connected to real job creation is a smart policy that can lead to job creation and growth."

On April 15, Watson Coleman will speak at Princeton University’s Policy Forum on Long-Term Unemployment.

To see the bills, click here and here.