Unemployment Extension Possible in 2014?

    January 4, 2014

The million or more people who will no longer be seeing unemployment checks – money that has kept food on the table – are unsure of how they will survive.

However, the possible good news is that next week, as early as Monday, Senate Democrats will move to vote on a three month extension for unemployment benefits for the 1.3 million people who lost them just after Christmas.

But presently, people are scrambling, trying to figure out how they are going to pay bills and feed their families. Many are talking about selling cars, moving, taking minimum wage work and pawning personal items in an effort to try to stay afloat.

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 following 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 like Arizona or Texas if he can land a manufacturing job there.

The five-year program extension that provided for the longer-term unemployed (6 months or more) ended and is going to hurt hundreds of thousands who still have not found jobs. The federal government program provided an average monthly stipend of $1,166.

Obama and the Democrats in Congress are not in favor of ending the program, but the extensions were dropped due to a budget deal struck with Republican lawmakers earlier this month who want the $26 million annual cost eliminated.

Obama reprimanded congressional Republicans for abandoning Americans and allowing their lifeline – unemployment – to expire on December 28th, stating the restoration of those benefits should be lawmakers’ “first order of business” when they return from their holiday break.

“Just a few days after Christmas, more than one million of our fellow Americans lost a vital economic lifeline – the temporary insurance that helps folks make ends meet while they look for a job,” he said in his weekly address. “And for many of their constituents who are unemployed through no fault of their own, that decision will leave them with no income at all.

“And denying families that security is just plain cruel,” he added. “We’re a better country than that. We don’t abandon our fellow Americans when times get tough – we keep the faith with them until they start that new job.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons