More than a million jobless Americans are figuring out what to do after their extended unemployment checks stop coming, Friday. "Emergency" benefits are ending this week. President Obama pushed to keep the long-term unemployment checks going, but Congress wouldn't pass it. The president ultimately signed the budget Thursday, halting the money for people who haven't found a job in months, even years.
About 10,000 Virginians will be cut-off from their extended unemployment checks, according to representatives from the Virginia Employment Commission. The checks average about $300 dollars a week.
This also means anyone receiving regular unemployment benefits, won't have the chance to apply for an extension, if they can't find work in time. The Virginia Employment Commission mailed out warning notices several weeks ago, and posted an alert on its website.
"This week is my last week for benefits," said Renee Hawkins, while exiting the VEC's workforce center.
Hawkins has a speech impediment, and says that's made it challenging to find a job. She's been out of work for nine months. "It's very difficult when you have a disability to find work…That kind of goes against you."
Long-term benefits kick in after state benefits run out. Donald Shiflett has just six weeks left. He won't be able to apply for an extension, if he doesn't land a job.
"It's nerve-wracking. You don't know if you're going to have any money to help pay your bills," said Shiflett.
Other places that offer employment help, like the Goodwill, are gearing up for a potential spike in people needing to find a job.
"I was surprised to see the number of people who were in here this morning, between Christmas and the new year," said Sophie Williams, director of Richmond's Goodwill career services.
Williams says they're prepared to handle more job seekers, now on deadline. "With the ending of the extension, it puts that much more pressure on a person to get out there and find a job."
In January, Senators will vote on whether to extend benefits for three months. However, some Republicans think this creates more dependency on the government, and the cost- too high.
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