Make us your home page
Instagram

Even if Congress extends jobless benefits, break will hurt some Floridians

The economic lifeline is gone for Debbie King and another 106,000 Floridians losing unemployment coverage effective this weekend because Congress let the extended benefits program expire.

A compromise tied to extending the Bush tax cuts may be inching closer in Congress. But even if the extended benefits program is reactivated, there could be a delay in getting money to jobless who have been cut off.

Last summer, when Congress let extended benefits lapse and then voted to restart them, it took several weeks for the restart to kick in for Florida recipients.

For King, a 30-year-old Tampa resident, that means the unemployment check she claimed Tuesday will be the last she'll receive. At least for a while. It means breaking her rental lease — potentially damaging her credit — and moving in with her sister-in-law. It means buckling down even more this holiday season.

She doesn't discuss the circumstances much with her 10-year-old daughter. "Right now, she wants to get presents for my family," she said. "That's hard."

King had been claiming $600 in unemployment aid every two weeks, minus the credits that were taken out for part-time work she found babysitting and fundraising for a consumer group.

Her timing was off. Her payout check this week happened to be the last one she was eligible for under the fourth tier of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation federal benefits, or EUC.

If the extended benefits program, known as EB, were still in place, King would have advanced to receiving up to another 20 weeks of payments. That would have carried her through April, assuming her job search continues to be fruitless.

After graduating from college with a biology degree, King worked for Capital One, taught high school and worked for the Florida Consumer Action Network until she was laid off in April 2009. She's been primarily seeking administrative office jobs — "anything that will be able to pay my bills" — but hasn't gotten beyond the interview stage.

Out of 9 million jobless receiving unemployment benefits nationally, 5 million have exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits and are on some level of federal, extended benefits.

Nationally, nearly 2 million stand to lose unemployment benefits by the end of the month. Come April, unless Congress intervenes, only those somewhere in their initial 26 weeks of coverage will still be left in the system.

Currently, about 588,000 out of an estimated 1.1 million jobless Floridians are receiving some level of unemployment aid: either the initial state benefit, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation federal benefits that follow or the final stage of extended benefits. Every week, about 41,000 more will stop receiving unemployment checks if they can't advance to their next level of extended payouts.

A spokesman for the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, which oversees unemployment payouts, said it's unclear how long it would take to re-start the program if an extension is passed. The time line would depend on such variables as how much programming is involved under conditions set by the bill, how long it takes to determine reimbursements of missed payments based on when the bill is enacted, and specific instructions by the U.S. Labor Department.

"As with all extensions, implementing the program would become the top priority of the programming staff and every effort would be made to get the payments out to those who qualify as soon as possible," agency spokesman Robby Cunningham said.

To advocates of extending benefits, a grim jobs report Friday underscored the need to distribute more aid to the long-term jobless as soon as possible.

In November, the number of Americans out of work for six months or longer swelled to 6.3 million, with unemployed people searching for work for an average of 33.8 weeks. The national unemployment rate rose to a six-month high of 9.8 percent representing 15.1 million jobless.

Republican leaders have long said the sticky issue is not extending unemployment benefits, but identifying a way to pay for it.

The U.S. Senate blocked a bill proposed by Democrats last month to extend unemployment insurance, but many expect a compromise before the lame duck session ends later this month. One oft-discussed scenario is tying extended benefits to at least a short-term extension of the Bush tax cuts for everyone. Democrats oppose keeping the tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 a year.

"I think if this does work out, it'll be very temporary," said Trev Riley, a 29-year-old Tampa resident on his ninth month of unemployment benefits. "If you're counting on the benefits, I would not hold my breath."

Riley and his wife moved to Israel after he graduated from the University of South Florida two years ago with a degree in economics. They moved back to the States a year ago.

"I flew back to get a better job," he said, "and I guess I chose the wrong time."

Times wires contributed to this report. Jeff Harrington can be reached at [email protected]

Jobless rate back up

With only a trickle of jobs added in November, the unemployment rate rose. Business, 4B

9.8% The November jobless rate, after three straight months at 9.6 percent

172,000 Jobs added in October

39,000 Jobs added in November, a 77 percent drop

Bank of America job cuts

The bank is adding jobs in Jacksonville but will cut more than 100 in Tampa. Business, 4B

9.8%

The November jobless rate after three straight months at 9.6 percent

172,000

Jobs added in October

39,000

Jobs added in November, a 77 percent drop

Even if Congress extends jobless benefits, break will hurt some Floridians 12/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2010 9:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations rebound from stronger earnings report

    Corporate

    TAMPA — After a sharp drop in its stock price in August and September, Health Insurance Innovations on Monday announced strong revenue and net income gains in preliminary numbers for its third quarter of the year. The company also announced a $50 million stock buyback over the next two years meant to bolster its …

    After losing more than half its market value between August and September, shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations are rebounding."The new share repurchase program underscores our confidence in our business strategy, financial performance, and the long-term prospects of our company while also allowing us the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business," company CEO Gavin Southwell announced Monday. [Courtesy of LinkedIn]
  2. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially …

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]
  3. Florida gas prices drop 25 cents on average over past month

    Autos

    Gas prices are on a downward tear post-hurricane. Tampa Bay fell to $2.34 per gallon on Sunday, down 10 cents over the week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Across the state, gas fell 7 cents over the same period to average $2.47 per gallon.

    Gas prices across the state fell 25 cents over 31 days. | [Times file photo]
  4. Entrepreneur expands interests with Twisted Crafts

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Playgrounds of Tampa owner Mike Addabbo is expanding into the do-it-yourself industry with his new endeavor: Twisted Crafts.

     Jennifer and Michael Addabbo pose in their latest entrepreneurial enterprise: Twisted Crafts. Photo courtesy of Twisted Craft.
  5. Amazing Lash franchise expands to South Tampa

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Jeff Tolrud opened the doors to his third Amazing Lash Studio franchise earlier this month, this time in South Tampa.

    When customers walk in, the studios have the same look and feel throughout the country, operator Jeff Tolrud said of Amazing Lash Studio. Tolrud opened his third in Hillsborough County earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Amazing Lash.