Unemployment Benefits Expiring

At least 80,000 people living in Illinois are losing their long-term unemployment benefits after congress failed to pass an extension for the program.

5,000 DuPage County residents are starting the new year without their emergency unemployment compensation. Those who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks will no longer be receiving checks from the government that ranged from $320 to $562.

Naperville cares, which provides emergency financial assistance for struggling families expects to see an increase in the number of people needing help.

“Most of our clients spend 80% on housing and transportation. So anytime there’s a hit in their budget you’re going to see their not going to be able to pay their rent, they’re not going to be able to keep their lights on, or they’re not going to be able to pay for that car repair,” said Janet Derrick, Executive Director for Naperville CARES. “So our clients are on the edge of being able to provide for their basic needs. So any sort of cut impacts them and we see an uptick.”

While the economy has picked up and the unemployment rate is falling it’s a different story for those who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks. The long-term unemployment rate is at the highest it’s been since any point since WWII.

“People are trying really hard to get jobs. And yes the jobs are there, but a lot of them are less money than they were making before,” said Kim White, Executive Director for the Community Career Center in Naperville. “When you don’t have benefits, the economy is not getting better for you. We try to make sure our clients understand other resources they can go to. But clearly people need money to pay rent, mortgage, and if you don’t have a job politicians can say it’s getting better, but it’s still not getting better for you.”

The extended unemployment program costs the government upwards of 25 billion dollars per year. Some politicians say the jobs emergency is over, so there’s no need to keep extending the benefits.

But, for the state economy cutting benefits takes away over 25 million dollars in purchasing power, which is money that typically goes straight back into the economy.

President Obama has urged congress to pass an extension but the bill would face some challenges from Republicans who don’t support extending the benefits.

An additional 89,000 people in Illinois will lose their benefits in the first six months of this year if congress decides not to renew the program.

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