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Emergency Unemployment Benefits Running Out

March 1st, 2010 by flanews

By the end of the month as many as 100-thousand Floridians could be kicked off the unemployment rolls. A program extending unemployment benefits to thousands of Floridians expired Sunday. As Whitney Ray tells us, if Congress acts this week the program could continue without a hiccup.

All eyes are on the US Senate this week as lawmakers consider extending the enrollment period for Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The window closed on thousands of jobless Sunday. But Congress could vote to reopen enrollment.

There are a couple of different scenarios were prepared for. Lets say Congress passes an extension this week. Its very likely our customers would feel no effect and experience no lapse in benefits, said AWI Spokesman Robby Cunningham.

But if no action is taken an estimated 20-thouand Floridians every week would stop receiving checks. By June the number could reach 400-thousand. The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy says the state would loss millions.

Consider the unemployment insurance benefits alone were talking 30.5 million dollars a week that arent in Floridas economy, said John Hall, director of the center.

And for every unemployment dollar spent, economists say theres a dollar 64 cent return in business growth. And, while Congress debates the pros and cons, state lawmakers are considering two bills: one that would stifle a business tax increase aimed at paying claims and another that would pump 444 million dollars into the unemployment checking account.

Lawmakers balked at the money last year because it allowed part-time employees and some people who quit to claim unemployment.

The people who are complaining about, well its going to cost the employer more money down the road and on and on and on, but it just makes no sense for us to leave 400 million dollars on the table, said State Senator Tony Hill, who is sponsoring legislation that would allow the state claim the extra dollars.

And as lawmakers debate, the unemployment rate continues to rise.

For updates about the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program go to www.floridajobs.org and look under UC Hot Topics.

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