U.S. eyes expanding safety net

Oct. 6, 2009 at 1:01 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The White House and congressional Democrats are considering expanding safety net protections for U.S. workers facing worsening unemployment, officials said.

Options being considered include tax incentives intended to spur hiring by U.S. businesses, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

President Barack Obama's top economic advisers took up the matter at a meeting Monday -- two days after Obama said in his weekly address the White House would "explore additional options to promote job creation." Senior adviser David Axelrod said no decisions are imminent, the Times reported.

"We're thinking through all additional potential strategies for accelerating job creation," Axelrod said.

Officials said an effort to promote hiring would be an extension of the economic recovery legislation passed shortly after Obama was inaugurated and would not amount to a second economic stimulus package, the Times reported.

The government reported last week the national unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September, a 26-year high. Many economists have suggested the rate will top 10 percent.

Congressional Democrats are also considering plans to extend extra unemployment assistance and health benefits for the long-term unemployed through 2010, the report said.

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