Unemployment Benefit Extensions Cut

(NATIONAL/SIOUX CITY, IA) More than a million Americans are bracing to lose their lifeline from the government.

Long term unemployment benefits put in place during the recession are set to end Saturday leaving those who've been out of work for more than six months with no cash coming in. When lawmakers return to Washington after the break the Senate is expected to vote on extending benefits for at least 3 months.

House republicans are willing to discuss the extension if there is a way to pay for it.

"To cut somebody's unemployment off for whatever reason they see fit, I don't, I really don't agree with that," said Jawanna McDonald, who is Unemployed.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts one of the hardest hit states is California, where more than 214,000 people will lose their extended benefits. New York ranks second where more than 127,000 will lose benefits.

The tri-state area isn't getting hit nearly as hard partly because the unemployment rates in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa are much lower than the national average.

It's good news and bad news for the tri-state area.
Let's start with the good news. Fewer people are out of work in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota compared to the national average. Only 200 people will lose their long-term unemployment benefits Saturday in South Dakota, 1,200 in Nebraska and 4,300 in Iowa. Combined, that's 5,700 - 209,000 less than the state of California.

Kerry Koonce, Communications Director for Iowa Workforce Development says Iowa is doing well.

"We are significantly lower than a lot of states for our percentage receiving EUC and that's because our individuals have gone back to work here in Iowa. In the scope of the amount affected nationwide, the amount affect here in Iowa is a very small number," said Kerry Koonce.

But here's the bad news, because the unemployed use some of their benefit money to feed their local economies, taking that money away from them will ultimately cost jobs.

The Federal Department of Labor estimates Iowa will lose more than 800, Nebraska more than 400 and South Dakota around 30.

Koonce says the extensions started in 2008. She says this is the longest time-period the federal government has ever allowed for extended unemployment benefits.

"Extended unemployment benefits are very rare. They're very rare," said Koonce.

She says more commonly you'll see disaster unemployment benefits after a major geographic area has been decimated by a tornado or flood for example. Which is why Koonce says the Iowa Workforce Development office gives everyone that signs up for unemployment in the state the same advice.

"Making sure they're doing assessments of where their skill levels are. What kind of re-training they might need to go back into the workforce, particularly if they're going back into a different industry then what they've left through their downsizing and to continue to hone their skills," said Koonce.

And there's another problem - according to the Washington Post if you've been out of work for more than 27 weeks you have a 12% chance of finding a new job. Speculation is the long-term unemployed are just less employable in the eyes of managers.