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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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12/26/2012 11:47:00 AM
Jobless benefits to dry up for many Arizonans

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- More than a third of Arizonans collecting jobless benefits could be getting their final checks this week.

But state officials say they should keep applying anyway -- just in case.

The problem, according to Mark Darmer, a deputy assistant director of the state Department of Economic Security, is funding for the emergency unemployment compensation program runs out on Saturday. And Darmer said that Congress has yet to authorize its continuation -- or appropriate the necessary money.

Most immediately the cutoff would affect the 21,000 Arizonans are getting such benefits out of a total of about 48,000 who are collecting some sort of unemployment insurance. But state officials say that unless Congress acts -- and soon -- thousands of others whose regular benefits are expected to run out before the find work again also will find themselves without the emergency benefits now available.

State law provides that individuals who are fired, laid off or otherwise lose their jobs through no fault of their own are entitled to compensation.

The first 26 weeks of benefits come from a fund paid for by a tax on employers on the first $7,000 of each worker's salary. The exact amount of the tax depends on each company's layoff history.

Theoretically, those eligible are entitled to half of what they were earning. But lawmakers, at the behest of business interests, have imposed a cap of $240 a week, the second-lowest in the nation after Mississippi.

This program, funded entirely by the federal government, covers the next 47 weeks -- albeit with that same $240 cap.

With the week ending Saturday being the last authorized by law, that means the last checks for those in the emergency unemployment program will come the first week of January. But Darmer said those who have been making the weekly claims -- and documenting their job search efforts -- should keep doing it.

"The strong message in there is claimants need to continue to file for benefits, even after the 29th,' he said.

"What we don't want to have happen is people stop filing, Congress goes into January, finally does something and makes it retroactive,' Darmer explained. "And then there's a whole ton of people trying to get caught up on their benefits.'

Under the law, those who want continued benefits have to show they are engaged in a "systematic and sustained effort' to find a job during at least four days of the week. There also is a requirement to make at least three work search contacts during the week.

All that needs to be reported to the state by fax, e-mail or on a computer at a DES office.

The failure of Congress to act affects more than Arizona.

Congress has approved some form of extended benefits since 2008 when unemployment rates shot up and many people were unable to find jobs after their regular benefits expired.

Despite the improved economy, Arizona's unemployment rate last month was still 7.8 percent. The national figure was 7.7 percent.

A decade ago the state's jobless rate was 5.9 percent. And it dropped as low as 3.5 percent in 2007, before the economy soured.

Estimates are close to two million people nationwide are getting emergency unemployment compensation. And another million whose regular benefits will expire will be unable to get continued help.

Cutting off payments would have ripple effects beyond those who find themselves without income. It means they will have less money to spend which, in turn, means less income for retail stores.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Article comment by: If you had a $70,000 a year job,

you would have more in savings and a bigger pad and could handle a fall like this. But some of us had $20,000 a yr jobs that we were layed off from and have no pad. 40 hours time $8.50 means take home pay of $1200 a month. How did you pay rent or a house payment, pay all your utilities, pay for gas to and from work, pay your car insurance and put food on the table for $1200 and not dip into your savings? And that is assuming there is no car payment, too. Please tell us more as I'd like to learn how.

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Article comment by: Ok Country Boy!

How was the Walmart health insurance? If your family had a catastrophic medical event (like a car crash) would you of applied for medicaid? Heck no! Then you'd just get another $8.00 hr job and work 16 hrs a day to pay off the $350,000 hospital bill!

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Article comment by: two cents

@ Country boy

Where did you get the impression that as soon as I lost my job or anyone that loses their job automatically signs up for unemployment and stops looking for work? You have to look for work in order to collect and you better find it in six months or else you lose your house!
There are less jobs and more people looking for those jobs. Every situation is different and not everyone can work at Walmart. I am not going to compare job experience with you but I am also not going to say there is any shame to collecting unemployment especially since you and your employer and the state has paid into it.
If you are married or have children and lose your job and can't find another one right away, in a situation like that you would collect unemployment and be glad it was there.

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Article comment by: Country Boy

@two cents. or better yet, lack there of!
At the middle of the crash I finally lost my job of 7 years @70k did I cry? no. did I milk the system
? No. I went straight out and put in applications everywhere in the Verde, EVERYWHERE! I got Hired at Walmart for $8.50 and hour, it kept my lights on, food on the table and roof over my hear and a proud work ethic in my heart. I work for what i need! It sucked but I did what I had to do at that time.
@ the person that commented toward "No sense's" post, Well said and true as a whole!!!!


Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012
Article comment by: two cents

Someone just posted a response to my post about the people losing their unemployment insurance.

This person reminded me that it is just the liberals that are unemployed because all liberals are lazy and don't want to look for work.

I guess I stand corrected, this guy sounds like an expert with a wealth of knowledge he has collected over a lifetime of experience.

I am sure he will never lose his job because he sounds like such an intelligent and dedicated worker. If by some act of God, this person does lose his job, the rest of us can be assured he won't be at the unemployment office sucking up unemployment entitlements meant for us liberals. More to go around that way. Thanks whoever you are.
just my two cents for what its worth

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012
Article comment by: M J

Have you ever noticed how shrill liberals get? I wonder why? Could it be that they have the temperament of a two year old? A study on this would be an interesting read.

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012
Article comment by: @ two cents

You said, "I wonder how many conservative gun-toting members of the GOP are complaining right now about losing their extended unemployment insurance?"

Probably not many, because they're too busy working.

Conservatives stay busy making a living like normal people. They're not on unemployment in the first place.

Unlike liberals, conservatives are not lazy. Conservatives would rather be gainfully employed even if its minimum wage than to sit around all day and grouse about the rich and how unfair life is to them.

Conservatives figure work hard, do something beneficial, and we'll have financial security and all we need. And guess what. In this country it happens! Anything is possible in this country, and thank God for that.

Remember conservatives embrace the independent work ethic, unlike liberals who embrace big government.

There's plenty of jobs around, if you're willing to work. Conservatives are. Liberals would rather milk the gravy train.

Free money. Free contraceptives. Free health care. Whooopee! Why should I work if I can do better on the public dole? This is the liberal mentality.

Conservatives have better things to do with their time than to think like this. They are too busy working.

Who do you think makes up the less than 50% of this country that actually pays taxes? Who do you think pays for all the liberal spending?

Conservatives don't count on Big Brother like liberals do. Conservatives don't want a nanny state like liberals do.

That's the difference.

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012
Article comment by: Johnny Johnson

The same ones who have a red-faced meltdown if anyone breathes a word about social security. God forbid anyone interfere with their 20 plus year vacation. Nevermind that their health (and wealth) are far better than that of the average, stressed-out working man.

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012
Article comment by: two cents

I wonder how many conservative gun-toting members of the GOP are complaining right now about losing their extended unemployment insurance? Unemployment insurance?, why isn't it called an 'entitlement'?, it is paid into by the employer and the employee every paycheck, just like social security?

Funny how we pick and choose the socialistic programs we like when we need them, and then complain about the ones not immediately affecting us.

Is that called shortsightedness?, or the innability to think for ones self in the face of all the propaganda we are being fed from the very politians that are stealing those 'entitlements' for their own benefits.
just my two cents for what its worth

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