Noting that some 4,000 New Mexicans will run out of unemployment benefits by the end of the year, the state's senior US Senator, Jeff Bingaman, wants his colleagues to pick up the pace on approving an extension of benefits.

"It will not eliminate the dread [the unemployed] have about the need to pay bills every month, but it will make things a little bit easier for those individuals," Bingaman says. "The extension will make it easier not just for the direct recipients but for the larger economy as well. Economists tell us for every $1 in unemployment benefits, $2.15 is generated throughout the economy."

Watch his speech here:

"The job market in my home state of New Mexico is dismal, and there is very little indication of improvement expected in the near future," Bingaman says. "The total number of unemployed and underemployed—including those who are working two or three part-time jobs to try to make ends meet, and those who have given up looking for work—approaches 17 percent of our workforce."

Read the full release from his office after the cut.


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today said Congress should quickly take up and pass legislation to extend unemployment benefits to thousands of New Mexicans who have been unable to find a job in this difficult economic climate.

The bill would extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers in all states and up to 20 weeks in hard-hit states with unemployment levels at or above 8.5 percent.  New Mexico's unemployment rate as of August was 7.5 percent, up from 4.3 percent a year ago.

“The pain of unemployment is being felt across the country.  More than 5 million Americans have been unemployed for 6 months or more and 2 million of those workers face the end of their unemployment benefits before the end of the year.  Up to 4,000 New Mexicans will exhaust their current unemployment benefits by the end of December,” Bingaman said today in a speech on the Senate floor.

“The total number of unemployed and underemployed, including those who are working two or three part-time jobs to try and make ends meet and those who have given up looking for work, is approaching 17 percent.  These aren't just numbers, these are real people who face each day with the dread of not knowing how they are going to pay for this week's groceries or make the coming mortgage or rent payment,” he said.

A vote on whether to take up the bill for debate is scheduled for Friday, but Bingaman said he hopes the Senate can come to an agreement that allows the bill to be finalized as soon as today.