Long-Term Jobless Face Bleak Christmas After Congress Fails To Pass Benefits Extension
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Lawmakers in Washington may be leaving town for the holidays, but for Tommy Donovan, the Congressional vacation couldn’t come at a worse time.
KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports Donovan is among some 1.3 million people who will no longer receive unemployment benefits as of Dec. 28.
“When I heard actually on the radio the House is in session today, they wanna wrap this budget up tonight and leave a day early, I’m thinking, ‘I hope to God they put that federal extension in there,'” Donovan said.
The 34-year-old Garden Grove resident found himself unemployed after the overwhelming stress of trying to help people keep their homes through loan modifications landed him on medical disability.
While on leave, Donovan said he was laid off by his employer. After he began receiving unemployment benefits, Donovan received a letter from the state when his 26 weeks were up notifying him that he was qualified for the federal extension.
That’s when Donovan learned the extension would be expiring.
“Going forward, it’s going to be very rocky, so I’ve really got to hold on to every penny that I can and be really conscientious of what I’m spending,” he said.
But like others in his situation, Donovan’s attempts at landing another job have proved unsuccessful: according to government data, the typical unemployed worker has been looking for work for 37 weeks.
It’s a common theme among the long-term jobless, who account for about 40 percent of adult unemployment nationwide.
Thirty-three-year-old Daniel of Los Angeles, who was laid off last January from his job in mail services for an aerospace company, has a wife and young daughter to support and has nearly exhausted his savings with no clear prospects for work.
He said he has grown frustrated by the automated application process, which has grown more commonplace with the advent of email and online job submissions.
“I was so used to always getting a phone call and actually interviewing versus just going through an email response,” said Daniel. “The human contact is lost, and there’s no way of knowing if it’s my resume that is not up to par to what they’re looking for, or if it’s just an automated system that’s responding.”
The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the highest since March.
California was among the states with the biggest increases in applications for benefits, with a rise of 21,876 due to layoffs in services and manufacturing, according to the Labor Department.
If Congress fails to authorize an extended benefits bill again, more than 2.5 million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits by the end of 2014.
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