Listen: Wyden press conference on unemployment

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Oregon Senator Ron Wyden held a press conference Tuesday morning, prior to a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon on whether to extend the supercharged unemployment benefits beyond the current planned sunset on July 31. 
“The President and Senate Republicans are declaring ‘Mission accomplished’ in response to Friday’s job report,” Wyden said. “I think it’s pretty clear the mission is not accomplished. The unemployment rate is still higher than it’s been since the Great Depression.”

Wyden had as his guests  MomsRising executive director and CEO Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner of Portland, Karen Kent, a worker from Pennington, New Jersey, and Jared Strickland, a worker from St. Augustine, Florida.  MomsRising is an organization that advances policies to improve the lives of families nationwide. Wyden said, particularly on paid leave policies.
Each made brief presentations and took questions from media.  Rowe-Finkbeiner  made a critical point about Friday’s report of two million jobs being added back into the market.

“It’s important to note that the marginal progress on jobs that was reported on Friday, that President Trump is so proudly touting,” she said, “boosted white workers only. That progress left people of color behind.”

Later she noted that investing in child care brings high return on investment. For every dollar invested, she said, there is a return of at least eight dollars. Kent and Strickland both said they had been living paycheck to paycheck prior to the pandemic and the shutdown had cost them their jobs. They were lucky to have filed early enough to receive unemployment benefits, and said the extra $600 in the “supercharged benefits” allowed them to continue to pay bills and mortgages and to buy food.  

They also dismissed an idea raised by a reporter saying that some Republicans are claiming that the extra funds will encourage people to stay on unemployment rather than seek work.   The panelists said even with the extra $600, they were making below what they were earning at work, and even if the pay were equal, they would want to work for needed health insurance coverage.

Wyden will hold an online Facebook town hall on Friday, June 11 at 11 am Pacific for residents of Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties.

To hear the press conference, click on the grey podcast bar below