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Benefits cut for the unemployed

Federal unemployment benefits are being phased out, and some states are imposing new restrictions on who can collect.

By Karen Datko Jun 1, 2012 6:22PM

Image: Worried Man (© Corbis)Friday's disturbing U.S. jobs report isn't the only bad news faced by the nation's 13.7 million unemployed. By the end of June, federal extended unemployment benefits will have ended early for nearly 500,000 long-term unemployed people this year -- and more cuts are coming.

 

Also, states are tightening their requirements to qualify for unemployment checks.


Some examples

Fifteen states deny benefits to seasonal workers when their jobs are done, and more are moving in that direction, CNNMoney says. "Now, some policymakers are picking and choosing specific industries to restrict, with school contract workers being a common target," it says. Those are workers like bus drivers and maintenance. Teachers are already prohibited by federal law from collecting benefits.


Critics say Florida now puts up more impediments to getting benefits than any other state. Since August, those who apply have to do so online and also complete an online test of skills and meet other requirements. So many people have been denied that the National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.


Says The Associated Press

In the first quarter of this year, 61,128 applicants were denied benefits for non-separation reasons such as the failure to meet reporting requirements and complete the skills assessment, the groups noted. That compares to just 19,676 in the first quarter of 2011 -- an increase of more than 200%.

Also, the state has reduced the length of benefits below 26 weeks as the jobless rate goes down. Lose your job next year and you'll likely receive only 20 weeks -- far below the 99 weeks, including federal benefits, when unemployment was at its worst.


Twenty-one of Florida's 67 counties had unemployment in excess of 9%, Ocala.com reported last month. (Post continues below.)

In Georgia, unemployed workers who fail a prospective employer's drug test will lose jobless benefits. The catch: The state won't know unless the employer voluntarily reports it.

 

Michigan lawmakers cut state benefits from 26 to 20 weeks. (Meanwhile, Michigan state senators have passed a bill allowing work-sharing.)


Reduced federal benefits

Congress, when it last approved a federal extension of benefits in February, also decided to phase them out. Two separate programs are involved:

  • Extended benefits. It provided 13 to 20 extra weeks of benefits in the hardest-hit states. It will end in September.
  • Emergency unemployment compensation. The phase-out of this 34 to 53 weeks on top of state benefits will begin this month and conclude at the end of 2012.

How soon federal benefits end depends on your state's economic conditions. On the West Coast, "Californians are getting hit with a reduction in benefits because, despite a jobless rate of nearly 11%, unemployment is not worse than it was three years ago," NPR says. About 95,000 Californians abruptly lost federal jobless benefits last month, says The New York Times.

 

The National Employment Law Project predicts that hundreds of thousands more of the long-term unemployed in the U.S. will lose jobless benefits prematurely by the end of the year.


"Never before has Congress cut back on extended unemployment insurance when the unemployment rate remains so high," Christine Owens, the project's executive director, wrote.

 

What's happened to folks when their benefits ran out?


"The majority of them sold possessions, missed payments on their mortgages or credit cards," Carl Van Horn of the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, told American Public Media's Marketplace. "One in five moved in with another family member. A very large percentage borrowed money from friends or family, or even their adult children."

Those who support the cutbacks maintain that extended benefits encourage people not to get a new job. Others say the checks keep the wolf from the door and bolster the economy. People who get those checks are spending them, we guarantee.


Which side of the argument are you on? If you've suddenly lost your benefits, how are you coping? Has the job situation improved where you live?


More on MSN Money:

170Comments
Jun 1, 2012 11:11PM
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Stop spending money on other countries problems! Fix the problems here first, then they could help other countries.
Jun 1, 2012 10:51PM
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The country is overpopulated. Time to close the borders for at least five years.  Letting to many people into this country when their is not enough jobs for americans.  
Jun 4, 2012 7:52AM
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Unemployment is from people working and Loosing their jobs, they want to work! The government is Not set up to Help these people get by until they get another job, they get a small percentage of what they actually make , and No assistance from the gov to get another job except be told do go to carreier builders. My husband lost him job after working 30 plus years and goes out daily looking for jobs and cant find anything over minimum wage. Can anyone live on that? What we need is the gov. to Stop Welfare thats where all the money is being sucked up by people who dont work or want to work and abusing our system. It should start with Drug testing . Ive got to go Ive got a job....
Jun 1, 2012 11:02PM
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How are U going to be "encouraged not to find a job" when there are no jobs??? What kind of stupidity is this???  Workers had been displaced because there are no real resources to create jobs...no reality for prosperity....
Jun 4, 2012 9:50AM
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What about food stamp fraud, welfare fraud and medicare fraud? Big money could be saved by stricter regulations on those three. Picking on the unemployed again?
Jun 1, 2012 10:42PM
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There is work that needs to be done all over this country.  Stop spending money on wars and new military equipment.  Use that money to hire people to rebuild this country's infrastructure, clean up the toxic waste sites, hire more teachers, and provide training for jobs.  There is no excuse for the waste of money and lives except that we've gotten used to it.
Jun 4, 2012 10:36AM
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They should make them take a drug test before giving any benefits. And then peridoically

test people who are collecting. Any one on drugs should be denied benefits.

Jun 4, 2012 6:38AM
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Your all wrong. The problem is greed. How many articles have been written about big banks and blue chip companies laying off thousands of workers just to increase profits. They are not laying off people because they don't have the business, they are laying workers off just to increase profits. Now don't get me wrong I believe every company has a right to make a reasonable profit, but not at the expense of the workers that helped earn those profits.

It is real easy to say the unemployed are lazy, good for nothing free loaders, until you become one of them yourself. Then the shoe will be on your foot and you will be looking for your unemployment support from the rest of us also. For many of you that day may be fast approaching, so the company you work for can earn a higher profit. Try explaining that to your kids while they eat government surplus cheese.

Oh wait, that's how we feed the unemployed in the 70's and 80's. Guess I just gave my age away!

  

Jun 4, 2012 10:31AM
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The government has many Americans believing that the unemployment rate is 8.1 %.

 

Do you really believe that?.......... I'd really believe a figure like %15.3

 

How about all those people that went from full time to part time. What would you believe is the true underemployment %......!

Jun 4, 2012 8:03AM
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When those 500,000 lose their UMB the unemployment rate will go below 8%........that's how Obama figures it..............500,000 folks will just disappear from the workforce.
Jun 4, 2012 8:35AM
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Standard operating procedure these days is to fire/layoff any experienced workers and to hire people fresh out of college that will work for half as much, that or to ship the job overseas. Problem is all the engineering and design lessons learned are lost, and the SAME mistakes are repeated over and over again.

 

If the new guy makes mistakes then it will cost the company more money due to wasted time and resources then if they had just kept the old guy around who had already knew not to do that and why. There are very few "master" craftsmen anymore. A master craftsman did not need a QC person and neither does any worker that actually cares about the product or company that they work for, but with how workers get treated these days what do employers expect? Put chit in get chit out.

 

We have two groups, one at the top and one at the bottom. Both groups expect to get something for or from nothing, but that is more welfare versus unemployment.

Jun 4, 2012 10:52AM
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I disagree.....unemployment has always worked , its not free ..you pay into it. now if all these companies are sending jobs overseas..leaving nothing here...then where do you go from there ?

Gov is manipulating the numbers....giving it the perception that unemployment is dropping. just get rid of the dam greedy politicians.

Jun 4, 2012 9:00AM
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I see so many things wrong with this situation

1. seasonal workers not being able to collect will mean that companies will now hire with "seasonal" status instead of part time staus making most of their emplyees ineligible to collect if job is lost.

2. making people take assessment tests means that if you dont have a good education (which we all know alot of americans skated thru school barely graduating) you cant collect regardless if you worked for 10 years prior to losing job, but yet they had no problem collecting unemployment taxes on you for those years employed.

3. Ones that are being dropped from unemplyment will now ALL be eligible for welfare, and that system is far worse! now govt will have hundreds of thousands that not only will get monthly welfare checks but food stamps and healthcare!

 

Jun 4, 2012 10:55AM
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I will probably loose everything when benefits fun out. I have higher education but that is not helping.  I water down my families milk and juice. I skip showers. We have given up the family pet.  We do not go anywhere.  To cut benefits at a time when there are few jobs just shows how out of touch Washington is.  Yet they can send another billion dollars to our friends in Pakistan.  Both Parties agreed to this and it is wrong.
Jun 4, 2012 2:36PM
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good ol congress is cutting money to taxpayers again and again sure don't see them taking any cuts themselves. they need to cut out all the perks taxpayers pay for like taxpayer paid for cars, homes air flights vacations and salary, why can't we cut their benefits as they cut ours? They are part of the problem we have they have not done anything to help stop jobs from going overseas nor help balance our nations cash problem they still have to many perks their pensions and medical aren't cut their job is still there even though I believe we don't need all of them nor do we need all they aides they have nor do we need to send money to foreign countries who don't even care about our country they are just like most of our politicians just there to get what they can.  just my opinion
Jun 4, 2012 12:49PM
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I lost my job a little over a year ago, through no fault of my own.  My husband lost his job in December (Merry Christmas, huh).  We both began collecting unemployment benefits upon our last pay from our former employers; because of the Federal cuts, my unemployment  ran out in April so my husband's unemployment is the only income we have. That amount doesn't even cover our mortgage payment.  For you people who think that the unemployment check is just for the uneducated, lazy people who don't want to work, then I propose you change places with me for one month.  I'm not looking for pity with this comment, I am pointing out that it is effecting everyone.  My husband and I were employed in good jobs making over $100,000.00 per year.  I have had to sacrafice my dignity (at least in my eyes) and receive food stamps and medicaid.  My husband and I send out resumes to every job that we possibly can ( some we are not even qualified for, but hoping for a miracle).  It's the same thing time after time - only one job and hundreds applying.  My husband applied for one job and they told him that they ran the ad one day and received over 400 applications.  I propose that our government officials lose their six figure a year salary and live like so many of me and my fellow Americans have for the last six months and then re-think the issue.  I guarantee they will have a whole new outlook on things.
Jun 4, 2012 10:52AM
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Other countries see the United States as a free life. We bring people here from other countries, and they never have to work again. The ones that do are cab drivers. Their wives and children get into the system, then we pay medical bills and all. What a life. Can't fix our on unemployment problems, but the government can bring poverty froms around the world and make the working taxpayer foot the bill.
Jun 1, 2012 10:10PM
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****ing dating site spammers need to die.
Jun 4, 2012 2:11PM
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I will probably loose everything when benefits run out. I have higher education but that is not helping.  I water down my families milk and juice. I skip showers. We have given up the family pet.  We do not go anywhere.  To cut benefits at a time when there are few jobs just shows how out of touch Washington is.  Yet they can send another billion dollars to our friends in Pakistan.  Both Parties agreed to this and it is wrong.  
Jun 4, 2012 8:28AM
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WoW...!

Can see it now...

American Citizens running Mexican Illegals off Home Depot Parking lots..

Just tryin to make a few bucks to feed their American famlies..

A sign of the times..

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