Extended jobless benefits will end Nov. 30, affecting up to 72,000 South Carolinians unless an 11th-hour measure to save them is revived in Congress.
If the benefits cease, $14 million a week will stop flowing into the pocketbooks of unemployed South Carolinians, said John Finan, director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “So, obviously, it has a big impact on the economy and people around the holidays.”
But that state agency is urging jobless workers to continue to file for the benefits, created as part of the federal economic stimulus package, even after Nov. 30 in case another extension is passed later.
“They should file at least through the end of the lame-duck session” of Congress, said Finan. “That way, if they pass something, we can get checks out to people quickly.”
Republicans in the U.S. House blocked a bill Thursday that would have extended jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed beyond the holiday season. The proposal that failed would have extended those benefits through the end of February. But the move would have added $12.5 billion to the nation’s debt. Republicans said the extension should have been paid for by cutting unspent money from last year’s economic stimulus bill.
Even if no extension is passed, jobless benefit checks for the long-term unemployed will not end on Nov. 30. Instead, those benefits will end when a jobless worker’s current unemployment benefits expire. Those benefits are determined based on the federal program, or “tier,” under which that jobless worker is paid unemployment.
“They will be affected at different times,” said Clark Newsome, a spokesman for the state employment agency. “The benefits would be phased out.”
For the past year, the unemployed in South Carolina and across the nation could qualify for up to 99 weeks of jobless benefits.
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