News Column

Unemployment Benefits To Run Out for 93,000 Californians

May 14, 2012

Andrew Edwards

California

An estimated 93,000 Californians lost unemployment benefits as of today when the federal government cut off funding that allowed the state to provide extended aid to the jobless since 2009.

California's unemployment is still in the double digits -- 11 percent -- but even that rate is not high enough to meet the threshold for Washington to continue financing extended unemployment aid.

The federal government had provided a financial boost to California's unemployment insurance program since March 2009. Federal dollars made it possible for jobless Californians to receive unemployment aid for up to 99 weeks, a much longer period than the previous 26-week time frame.

As of March, some 726,000 Californians, roughly 35 percent of the state's unemployed, have been without work for at least one year.

The Inland Empire's long-term unemployed include people like Daniel Wineberg, 58, of Rancho Cucamonga. Wineberg has been out of work since September 2010.

Wineberg receives $382 in unemployment benefits every two weeks and will be able claim benefits for only another month or two, he said while browsing for jobs at the Employment Resource Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

The job seeker worked as a security guard before losing his job. He was then studying appliance repair but has yet to find work in that or a related field.

"It (job searching) hasn't been too good at this point," he said. "At the time I went to school for that field, it was wide open, but now it's starting to shrink."

As benefits expire, Inland Empire officials said they are advising the region's long-term unemployed to join job-hunting classes or apply for welfare benefits.

Many people enduring lengthy periods of unemployment have fallen behind on job hunting skills, said Tony Gomez, manager of the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board's job center in Rancho Cucamonga.

That's why, he said, he is advising people losing jobless benefits to attend the job center's workshops teaching resume writing, networking and other skills.

"A lot of these people -- you know what? -- they're resumes are outdated. They don't know how to interview," Gomez said.

Workforce Investment Board staffers have also referred those losing benefits to state and federal welfare programs, Executive Director Sandy Harmsen said.

But Harmsen said many job seekers have also made the mistake of relying on unemployment benefits instead of applying for jobs that while not being a job seekers' first choice, actually exist.

"It's easier to get a better paying job if you have been working," Harmsen said.

Being too picky, she added, may convince hiring managers that one is just not very interested in working.

California is one of eight states where the chronically unemployed will lose benefits today. The others are Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas, where another 140,000 people will be affected.

Fifteen other states were cut in April, including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia and South Carolina.

More than 912,000 unemployed Californians have received $5 billion in extended unemployment payments since March 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Source: (c)2012 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.)


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