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Congress fails to extend jobless benefits

November 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Unless Congress changes its mind, extended unemployment benefits for nearly two million Americans are set to run out by the end of the year.Patrice and Melinda Haynes go to the Van Nuys WorkSource center trying, like thousands of Californians, to find a job.

"For about 2 years I've been looking, you know, It's been hard. I've applied to a lot of places," said Haynes.

Finding work is about to become even more critical for nearly two million Americans, who will stop getting unemployment checks by the end of December, after Congress failed to renew extended jobless benefits by Tuesday's deadline.

"It's detrimental. There aren't a lot of family and friends out there who are able to fill the need for the people who are unemployed," said Lisa Clor of Van Nuys. "At the current moment, I don't have a dollar to my name.

"It'll be hard to get a job, but then unemployment. You won't have a job, you won't have unemployment, and then what? A lot of people are going to be homeless," said Melinda Haynes.

In July 2008, Congress extended jobless benefits for up to 73 weeks. With the 26 weeks of coverage from the states, some Americans have been able to get 99 weeks of unemployment. The long-term benefits cost the U.S. government $319 billion over the past three years.

"I can empathize with people who feel like, you know, 'there's got to be an end to unemployment benefits' Really, should people be getting unemployment for 6 months or a year or longer? Maybe not," said Clor.

California has the nation's third highest unemployment rate at 12.4 percent. Many analysts said not renewing the extended jobless benefits will drive thousands of Californians into poverty.

"It's a bittersweet thing. It's correct on one side, because you don't want people to continue to live off this. But on the other side, there are a lot of people who are really, really struggling," said Andrew Muller.


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