Santa Barbara- S County

Thousands on Central Coast Losing Long-term Unemployment Benefits

Thousands Losing Long-term Unemployment Benefits

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - It's not the kind of holiday gift you want, as thousands of Californians will lose their unemployment checks starting tomorrow. The expiring federal program had extended unemployment benefits for Californians, giving them more time to find a job while still having some cash flow.

This doesn't only affect the people who are going to be kicked off the unemployment compensation system starting tomorrow. It also affects people like Isabel Uriegas, who are applying to get unemployment benefits right now while also looking for their next job.

"There's jobs out there, it just takes time," says Uriegas.

But time isn't exactly on Uriegas' side. She came to Santa Maria about a month ago and is in the process of applying for unemployment benefits. Starting tomorrow, Isabel will only be able to receive 26 weeks of compensation under California's program. The federal program would kick in an additional 37 weeks on top of that, but since it wasn't extended in the budget deal in Congress earlier this month it will expire tomorrow.

That means people like Uriegas will have less time to find a job while also having money coming in. A local workforce resource manager said, on the plus side, job prospects are looking up locally.

"There is no huge boon in employment, but it is getting better. It's just slow and gradual, so we'll dig our way out the same we way got into this," says Mona Baker, manager at the Santa Barbara County Workforce Resource Center.

More than 1,700 people in Santa Barbara County will be kicked off the federal compensation program tomorrow. A little over 1,000 in San Luis Obispo County will be cut off as well.
Both sides in Congress have talked about revisiting the issue. It's expected to pop up again sometime in 2014.

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