SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

There will be more tough times ahead for 1.3 million unemployed Americans. Long-term benefits run out today after congress failed to extend the federal program.

Gene Nicol, a local resident, said "I think it's wrong. I think we're spending money on things that we don't need to be spending money on."

Close to 3,000 Central Coast residents were cut off today from Federal unemployment benefits, and the actual number could be significantly higher. Karen Dwyer, owner of Express Employement Professionals, a staffing agency providing full-time and temporary job placement, believes the employment landscape is more complex than many realize. "In Santa Barbara County we are somewhat fortunate that we have fairly low unemployment. It's like we are on an island here. The fact is because it's so expensive to live here unemployed people usually just move away.

The first chance for Congress to extend unemployment benefits is January 7th, and while some employers have chosen to only hire part-time employees during the recent economic downturn, others have been able to keep a full-time staff. John McCormack, owner of McCormack Heating and Air Conditioning, said "All the people that are working for me are working full-time so i don't see it as a problem."

According to the Labor department, over 214,000 Californians lost their unemployment benefits today. That figure is expected to rise to more than a half-million by June.