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13 Week Unemployment Extension

September 22nd, 2009 by flanews

Congress is considering a plan that would extend unemployment benefits by up to 13 weeks. Right now people can qualify for up to 79 weeks of unemployment pay in Florida, but as Whitney Ray tells us, without an extension 132,000 Floridians will run out of benefits by the end of the year.

Lilton Duncan is relying on his unemployment check to pay bills and buy groceries. He’s had no luck finding work and is afraid of what will happen when his benefits run out. A plan being discussed in Congress could keep benefits flowing to Lilton for an extra 13 weeks.

“Everybody needs all the help we can get. 13 weeks would be good,” said Lilton.

The State Agency for Workforce Innovation is watching what’s happening in Washington and is ready to jump into action if the legislation passes.

“We are monitoring it very closely and whatever the Department of Labor decides as far as implementation, we will be ready to implement,” said Robby Cunningham, a spokesman for AWI.

If the legislation fails and the job market doesn’t improve 132,000 Floridians will run out of benefits by year’s end. Less money for the unemployed means fewer dollars going back into the state’s economy. The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy says the impact will be devastating.

“We are talking over 60 million dollars a week of lost economic activity. That’ll have an effect on existing business and people who are employed,” said John Hall, the Executive Director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.

It’s unclear if people who have already exhausted their benefits will be eligible for the 13 week extension. There are 984,000 unemployment Floridians. About one out of every three isn’t receiving benefits.

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