House and Senate Democrats today introduced legislation to renew the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for an additional year, preventing an immediate expiration of benefits for 1.3 million Americans during the week of Dec. 28. The legislation would effectively extend current law through 2014, providing unemployed Americans with a vital lifeline as they continue to recover from the severe economic crisis, from which the economy has yet to fully recover. The economy still has 1.5 million fewer jobs than when the recession began in 2007. To put the severity of the Great Recession into perspective, consider the fact that the previous three recessions -- which began, respectively, in 1981, 1990 and 2001 -- each took fewer than four years for the economy to regain the jobs lost. Yet, six years after the Great Recession began, our economy is still 1.5 million jobs shy of reaching pre-recession levels. What's more, 36 percent of unemployed Americans have been out of work for six-plus months, much higher than any peak experienced during any recession since the Great Depression.