Hurricane Harvey Response Must Include Programs to Protect Affected Workers

WASHINGTON — The following is a statement from Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, on the importance of state and federal programs to protect those affected:

“As we witnessed in the aftermath of prior disasters, there are major gaps in the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and state unemployment insurance (UI) programs. Much more needs to be done to ensure that jobless workers and local businesses in Texas and Louisiana can fully rebuild. Our thoughts are with the families and communities severely affected by Hurricane Harvey, and we urge all our elected officials involved in the recovery effort to focus on creating robust security programs so we are less vulnerable when the next disaster hits.”

For background: In times of economic crisis and severe unemployment—which are all too often caused by natural disasters—working families rely on the benefits provided by the state unemployment insurance (UI) and a federal program called Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to get back on their feet and rebuild their communities. DUA is available to workers and the self-employed in the counties declared major disaster areas by the President if they do not qualify for the regular state unemployment benefits (which, on average provide $404 a week in Texas and just $217 a week in Louisiana). Thus far, DUA claims are being accepted in Texas, but not in Louisiana.

Related resources for workers and advocates:

Fact Sheet: Responding to the Needs of Unemployed Families Resulting From Hurricane Harvey

Fact Sheet: Disaster Unemployment Assistance: How Workers Can Access the Program After Hurricane Harvey

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