January 1 could spell end to unemployment benefits for thousands

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by Matt Sczesny/News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 13 at 7:01 AM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Over 100,000 residents of Missouri and Illinois could see their unemployment benefits expire if Congress does not act before January 1.

If no action is taken, an estimated 90,000 people in Illinois and 22,000 in Missouri would lose unemployment benefits. Officials at the Missouri Career Center are trying to warn as many of the unemployed as they can.

Inside the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), a department of the Missouri Career Center, warning signs are all over the walls. The signs show  a countdown to when those who have been on unemployment benefits for 73 weeks will lose that particular safety net.

“What happens to these people if those benefits disappear?” SLATE Executive Director Michael Holmes said. “For  some of them it's over, they get no monetary dollars."

Officials at SLATE estimate 2,000 St. Louisans will be affected. Once the benefits stop coming, another 2,800 Illinois residents will be affected each week.

If Congress does not act, $44 million will be cut from the Illinois Department of Employment Security budget. Illinois has already cut more than 200 workers and is closing and consolidating offices to save money.

Those who oppose renewing unemployment benefits say they last too long and give the unemployed an incentive not to look for work.

“There are some people that taking advantage of the benefits, but that's a little minute number,” Holmes said. “What we're trying to tell individuals, when they come in every four weeks is you have to be engaged and looking actively looking for employment. It is part of our responsibility."

 

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