Stakes high for US families losing jobless benefit

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WESTMINSTER, Calif. — The end of unemployment checks for more than a million people on Saturday is driving out-of-work Americans to consider selling cars, moving and taking minimum wage work after already slashing household budgets and pawning personal possessions to make ends meet.

Greg and Barbara Chast­ain of Huntington Beach, Calif., put their two teenagers on the school lunch program and cut back on dining out after losing their T-shirt company in June after a dispute with an investor.

They’ve exhausted their state unemployment benefits and now that the federal extensions are gone, unless they find jobs the couple plan to take their children out of their high school in January and relocate 50 miles east where a relative owns property so they can save on rent.

“We could let one of our cars go, but then you can’t get to work – it’s a never-ending cycle,” 43-year-old Greg Chastain said while accompanying his wife to an Orange County employment center. He said they eventually might try their luck in a less expensive state such as Arizona or Texas if he can land a manufacturing job there.

The end to the five-year program that extended benefits for the long-term jobless affected 1.3 million people immediately and will affect hundreds of thousands more who remain jobless in the months ahead. Under the program, the federal government provided an average monthly stipend of $1,166.

While the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress want to continue the program, the extensions were dropped from a budget deal struck earlier this month and Republican lawmakers have balked at its $26 billion annual cost.

The end of the program might prompt a drop in the nation’s unemployment rate, but not necessarily for a good reason. People out of work are required to look for work to receive unemployment benefits. As benefits disappear, some jobless will stop looking for work out of frustration and will no longer be counted as unemployed.

The trend has already emerged in North Carolina, which started cutting off extended benefits in July. The state’s unemployment rate went down – from 8.8 percent in June to 7.4 percent in November – even though the number of North Carolinians who said they had jobs rose only slightly in that time.

That’s what Fed chairman Ben Bernanke meant when he said this month that the end of extended benefits “will bring the unemployment rate down, but for … the wrong reason.”

Some unemployed people said the loss of benefits might drive them to take minimum wage jobs to get by until they can find work in their field.

Richard Mattos, 59, of Salem, Ore., has been out of work since March, when he was laid off as a case manager at a social services organization. Without the unemployment income, Mattos said he and his wife will have enough money for one month’s worth of bills. Almost every day, he visits employment centers run by the state of Oregon or Goodwill Industries International.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “We could end up homeless because of this.”

Since 2008, the federal program paid out benefits to the unemployed after their 26 weeks of state benefits ran out. At its peak, the program offered up to 73 weeks of federal benefits – which are typically offered during periods of high unemployment – to the long-term jobless.

In November, the country’s unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7 percent, but is still above the 5 percent to 6 percent rate that would signal a normal job market. And long-term unemployment remains a problem for the economy as nearly 4.1 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more.

Deborah Barrett, a 57-year-old resident of Newport, R.I., is one of them. She was laid off from her management job in accounting in February and has sent out hundreds of resumes since. She said she doesn’t know how she’ll get by without the federal assistance.

“It’s petrifying,” she said. “Unfortunately, I don’t believe my story is very unique.”

Laura Garay, 57, pawned her jewelry, withdrew retirement funds and relied on support from friends after losing her paralegal job in May, the same month she was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Garay said her illness set back her job search, but as long as she’s healthy, she’ll work at just about anything to avoid being jobless for too long.

“You don’t find a job in two weeks, you don’t find a job in three weeks,” she said. “You find a job after months of searching.”

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harley_52
22831
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harley_52 12/29/13 - 03:21 am
7
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"You don’t find a job in two weeks....

....“you don’t find a job in three weeks,” she said. “You find a job after months of searching.”

Sometimes that's true, but that's why "Unemployment" lasts for about six months. Most people who REALLY look for a job can find one in that time even if it means taking one that's not "ideal," learning a new skill, or moving to a place where the jobs are located.

What many of these "long term unemployed" people have been receiving isn't "Unemployment," it's welfare.

geecheeriverman
1886
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geecheeriverman 12/29/13 - 07:07 am
12
1
FIND A JOB

Maybe now, some of the hardcore unemployed will find a job. This was a crutch for most people. I an over 70 years old and I have received 2 weeks of unemployment in my entire adult life. This was in 1964 when I was Honorably discharged from the US Army. The never ending free stuff from our US Government is what has caused this Country to be going downhill like a loosened boulder. Unemployment is not a lifelong vocation.

Dixieman
13939
Points
Dixieman 12/29/13 - 09:07 am
12
2
Thanks, Obama

Your policies are ruining the best economy in the world -- or what used to be the best economy in the world. Wish it was 2016 so we could get a decent president!!

robert2410
1628
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robert2410 12/29/13 - 09:41 am
9
2
Liberals will never get this
Unpublished

Liberals will never get this but the best response to losing a jobless benefit is to find a job. A completely unheard of concept to you libs I know but try it.

justthefacts
21115
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justthefacts 12/29/13 - 10:06 am
5
2
Obama

He can't create jobs and he can't figure out a way within the budget to pay them unemployment. Great leader, huh? And yet, every MSM news report blames the Republicans.

Bizkit
30407
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Bizkit 12/29/13 - 10:27 am
4
2
Don't worry they qualify for

Don't worry they qualify for free medicaid health care and numerous govt programs still. The govt is expanding so much-why can't they offer these folks job. We can be like Denmark which I think the majority of the population are employed by the govt. Just kiddin'. Govt can help by protecting Americans right to job opportunities-hispanics for low income and asians and indians are taking high tech jobs. Govt can implement a strategy of technology use-because we are eliminating jobs humans use to do. We have machines making machines, artificial intelligence based on human where computers "learn" like a human reminds me of the Terminator movies.

JRC2024
8310
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JRC2024 12/29/13 - 11:13 am
7
1
''Some unemployed people said

''Some unemployed people said the loss of benefits might drive them to take minimum wage jobs to get by until they can find work in their field.''
What a dumb statement-You should take whatever job you can find while still looking for a better job in your chosen field. I feel sorry for those that have lost a job but everyon e knows that can happen so the prudent thing to do is to always never live up to your income and always save a portion. I realize those on min wage jobs cannot do this but those of us that have a good income can and should.

Bizkit
30407
Points
Bizkit 12/29/13 - 11:42 am
2
1
The median income normalized

The median income normalized to inflation has been around 40-55K since the 1950s so the vast majority of American families were raised very well with this modest income.

CobaltGeorge
153690
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CobaltGeorge 12/29/13 - 11:44 am
2
1
Those Losing Their Unemployment Checks

remind me of those that wait till the last day of Christmas to buy a gift that is no longer there.

itsanotherday1
41432
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itsanotherday1 12/29/13 - 11:48 am
5
0
JRC2024 beat me to it:

"Some unemployed people said the loss of benefits might drive them to take minimum wage jobs to get by until they can find work in their field."

What he said....

itsanotherday1
41432
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itsanotherday1 12/29/13 - 12:07 pm
4
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I have nothing to back this

I have nothing to back this up except my opinion from observation of people's habits for the past 50 years.

I wager the vast majority of those harshly impacted by unemployment have not been wise in managing their finances. Take the person who said they may have to sell one of their two cars. That implies car payments. Smart money people don't have car payments; it is one of those things that should be bought with cash.(I just threw that stone through my glass house wall. I used to buy on time, but not anymore)
So, IF he has two payments, why not sell both and buy two clunkers with the cash left over? (assuming he isn't upside down)
People should also salt away 6 months living expenses as an emergency fund first, before committing to buy ANYTHING other than essentials. Reckon how many folks in trouble now had done that? No doubt most had car payments, big mortgage, smart phones, iPads, internet service, cablevision, and other non-essential spending; but not an emergency reserve. That is one thing I do and have had for 20+ years.

Sweet son
9988
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Sweet son 12/29/13 - 03:20 pm
4
0
JRC and it'sanotherday both beat me to the punchline!

"Some unemployed people said the loss of benefits might drive them to take minimum wage jobs to get by until they can find work in their field."

Is that not the way it is supposed to work. If you are hungry then you take what you can get and you get by! Federal government unemployment should have never been implemented in the first place. It is/was nothing more than another 'entitlement!'

corgimom
30352
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corgimom 12/29/13 - 08:48 pm
0
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Itsa, I agree with you and

Itsa, I agree with you and I've had a reserve for nearly 40 years; however, out there in Southern California, it's way different.

The house prices out there are so astronomical that people just can't do as you suggest. A house that would go for $75,000 in Augusta is $500,000 out there. And that's for a 60 year old small house with no air conditioning. And the wages out there aren't commensurate with the cost of living. A $200,000 house gets you a house in gang territory, and is comparable to what you might see in the Bethlehem district of Augusta.

Many people have left California for that reason. It's a great place to live, but unless you are either very wealthy or very poor and get subsidized housing, it's a very tough place to live.

Truth Matters
6496
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Truth Matters 12/29/13 - 10:26 pm
0
0
Hold on you unemployed.

Hold on you unemployed. Speaker Boehner promised to get jobs after the GOP won the House in the 2010 mid-term election. He even taunted the president by asking, "Where are the jobs Mr. President?"

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