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18,000 San Diegans Stand To Lose Federal Unemployment Benefits By Year’s End

Federal extended unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of the month for more than 18,000 people in San Diego who have been jobless for six months or more, unless Congress continues the program into 2014.

Aired 12/12/13 on KPBS News.

Federal extended unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of the month for more than 18,000 people in San Diego who have been jobless for six months or more.

Statewide, nearly 222,000 will lose their benefits, and 1.3 million people nationwide will be impacted, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The benefits, which average $1,200 per month, are scheduled to expire on Dec. 28. After that, unemployed will be capped at 26 weeks of checks—the duration of state benefits.

That's because the budget deal reached by Congress on Tuesday fails to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides federal funds for the unemployed after state benefits run out.

"Some people argue if you cut off these benefits, people will go and then find jobs, but right now there’s about three job seekers for every job opening," said Alan Gin, professor of economics at the University of San Diego.

Gin said when the benefits end, there will be less money going into the local economy. But he said the good news is San Diego’s unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent this month, and the region is on pace to add approximately 25,000 jobs in 2014, Gin added.

"So maybe some of these people will be able to get jobs," he said. "I think though if we keep the benefits, the job growth would be even stronger."

Democrats in both houses have proposed bills to extend the program, but time is running out to move them forward as the legislative session in Washington ends on Friday.

Letters were sent by the state to unemployed Californians who will be impacted by the expired program, advising them of additional federal and state resources, including: America's Job Centers of California, We Connect, Keep Your Home California and California Department of Social Services.

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