Federal unemployment could run out for CA residents


Yet another day passes in Washington with no resolution on unemployment benefits.

"Mr. Speaker, you're walking out, you're walking away," Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland said during Wednesday's House session, "just as so many Republicans have walked away from the middle class taxpayers, the unemployed."

Lawmakers are fighting over how to pay for the $44 billion it would take to extend unemployment benefits for another year.

Three thousand miles away from Washington, more than a million jobless California residents like Matthew Clark are on pins and needles. Will their unemployment checks continue?

At the moment, the answer for many is "no."

"It would affect my lifestyle, obviously," Clark said. "I'd have to stop paying a lot of things. It would be difficult."

Without Congressional approval of extensions, people receiving unemployment checks would not be able to receive the next tier of benefits.

Normally, an eligible person could get up to 26 weeks of benefits, but in this recession, as many as four extensions are available. For the long-term unemployed, a special extension called Fed-Ed make up to 99 weeks of benefits available.

While most recipients could finish their current tier, the 100,000 Californians on Fed-Ed could run dry on Jan. 7.

The Employment Development Department (EDD) is getting ready to send out warning notices.

"These are people wondering 'What am I going to do come the first of the year when my rent comes due?'" said Loree Levy with California EDD. "This is why we're trying to make sure we go out there and warn people that this potential now exists."

With no prospects of work in his trade as a sheet metal worker, Clark and millions like him are upset Congress is playing with their lives and desperately need their lifeline continued.

"Why not make this like a Christmas gift to everybody?" Clark questions. "Come back and fix it."

For every dollar in unemployment benefits, about $2 gets pumped back into the economy. Through November, California paid out $15 billion in benefits -- that's $30 billion that may not end up in the state's economy in 2012.

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