Mississippians feel impact of lost support
by Courtney Warren
Jan 02, 2014 | 1638 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Extended federal unemployment benefits came to a sudden halt Dec. 28, entailing potentially significant implications for the recovering U.S. economy and setting up a tense battle when Congress reconvenes in the New Year, according to an article by the Associated Press.

"Those who were on emergency unemployment compensation are no longer receiving benefits at all," said Kathryn Stokes, strategist affairs officer for the Mississippi WIN Job Center.

"As of December there were about 11,500 people receiving emergency unemployment compensation and as of Dec. 28 those people no longer get benefits," she explained.

About 1,500 to 2,000 people each month are exhausting their benefits so at the end of January there will be another 1,500 who have exhausted regular 26 weeks worth of compensation.

"That’s if congress doesn’t act to reinstate compensation," added Stokes.

According to an article by the Associated Press, for families dependent on cash assistance, the end of the federal government's "emergency unemployment compensation" will mean some difficult belt-tightening as enrollees lose their average monthly stipend of $1,166.

Jobless rates could drop, but analysts say the economy may suffer with less money for consumers to spend on everything from clothes to cars. Having let the "emergency" program expire as part of a budget deal, it's unclear if Congress has the appetite to start it anew.

An estimated 1.3 million people were cut off when the federally funded unemployment payments ended Dec. 28.

"When Congress comes back to work, their first order of business should be making this right," President Barack Obama said last week at his year-end news conference.

When asked if she believed this benefit cut would bring in more job seekers Stokes said, "These are people who have been unemployed for a long time, they've already gone through their 26 weeks. It doesn’t necessarily increase the number of people that come in but it may."

Stokes also explained that average time a Mississippian spends unemployed is close to 15 weeks.

The WIN Job Centers throughout the state provide "job placement assistance, job and skill training, priority services for veterans, career counseling and referral to many other valuable services," according to the Website.

"Our WIN Job Centers are there to help people find jobs and prepare for jobs. If someone has never written a resume they can go to the center and someone can assist them in how to write a resume or if people are lacking skills they can find out what training is in their area to prepare them with better skills," said Stokes.

The WIN job centers also have a Website where people can go online and search for jobs.

"We have recently enhanced our website so people can put skills they have in a profile and find what jobs match their skills," said Stokes.

As of Dec. 24, 34,196 people have found jobs through the WIN job centers in Mississippi and right now there are over 19,000 job openings on the website.

At the depth of the recession, laid off workers could qualify for up to 99 weeks of benefits, including the initial 26 weeks provided by states. The most recent extension allowed a total of up to 73 weeks, depending on the state.

Restoring up to 47 extra weeks of benefits through 2014 would cost $19 billion, according to the Congressional Budget office.