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In tough times, the unemployment insurance system is there to help keep us afloat. Unemployment insurance payments keep families out of poverty and help them stay engaged in the economy. And at times when long-term unemployment is high, UI benefits are even more important to those who have lost jobs and to their communities.

Recently, the number of workers facing long-term unemployment and unable to find work before exhausting their benefit payments has reached levels we haven’t seen in decades. There are four job seekers for every job opening, and nearly 40 percent of unemployed people have been jobless for six months or more.

Over the last few years, Congress has extended the length of time the jobless can receive unemployment benefits. But that extension is at risk of lapsing thanks to political games and ideological maneuvering. Instead of simply extending unemployment insurance, some in Congress are trying to slash the time benefits are available and impose unnecessary conditions on those facing job loss.

Unemployment insurance matters to workers and to the national economy. It helps us weather tough times and boosts the economy during downturns. America’s workers deserve expanded unemployment insurance that covers all jobless workers and provides adequate benefits for them.