older unemploymentMore than one million people lost their unemployment benefits Saturday, due to the expiration of the emergency program that Congress chose not to extend.

AFL-CIO Chief Economist Bill Spriggs says that although the extension will be costly, it makes sense for Congress to extend unemployment benefits and that Congress should focus on unequal income shares and raising minimum wage to make long-term effects on the economy. According to Spriggs, Congress should stop worrying about the profitability of companies and the national deficit and start taking action to keep as many people as possible as active participants in the economy.

“Right now the problem is not the profitability of American corporations,” says Spriggs. “They’re very profitable right now. They don’t have enough customers. That’s why you don’t want to remove a million people from the customer lists of companies right now by stopping their unemployment benefits. They’re making people disappear from the statistics because they’re going to drop out of the labor market.”

Listen to the entire exchange below.

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