Unemployment Running Out For 100,000

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Jobs might go away-- but responsibilities don't.

Just ask Encarnita Figueroa, laid off from Michigan State and on unemployment for the first time.

"I have to pay the light, water, heater, food-- we're going back to school with the kids, I have to buy them everything," she says.

"I live from month-to-month."

But this month was the last month for thousands in Michigan to receive any kind of benefits .

In Jackson County, 324 people have now fully exhausted their benefits, up from 35 last month.

In Ingham, it's up to 319 from 53.

By the end of this year, nearly 100,000 in the state will have drained their 79 weeks of unemployment.

"The numbers we're talking right now include people who already have exhausted state benefits, and they will be running out of all extensions, including federal," says DELEG Deputy Director Susan Corbin.

And, come January, Corbin says the number of weeks people can claim unemployment will be down to 26, when federal funds run out. Right now, 53 weeks of unemployment are funded by the feds.

"The time to act is now," says Rep. Mark Meadows, (D) East Lansing.

Meadows is one lawmaker behind a house bill that would bring in $138 million in stimulus dollars to extend unemployment.

"By just saying yes, we get an extension of up to 26 weeks of unemployment if we provide a worker training program," he says.

Not so fast, says Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, (R) Rochester. His office is telling us they don't support the stimulus plan because it's one time money, and they say businesses will have to contribute to the unemployment fund once the stimulus runs out.

For Figueroa, an extension is a no-brainer.

"Unemployment is there for a reason, for a crisis," she says, adding that crisis is now.


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