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Thousands stand to lose jobless benefits

November 12, 2010 2:31:21 PM PST
State labor officials are preparing for the possibility that 200,000 New Yorkers could lose their unemployment benefits if Congress fails to extend the emergency benefits.

Some of the jobless held a small protest on Varick Street in front of the unemployment office.

They call themselves 99ers. They've used up all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

One of them, Candida Haynes, got her last check this week.

"I was laid off with about a dozen people in one day. That was the Thursday before Thanksgiving 2008," she said.

As the recession grinds on, Congress has extended unemployment benefits four times.

If it doesn't again, then 200-thousand New Yorkers will have no benefits at all.

"Well, if that happens you won't see many New Yorkers or really anyone throughout the nation having a very Merry Christmas," Edward Nelson said.

Democrats in Congress are pushing for extending benefits during the lame duck session that begins Monday. There is the theory that congressional action will help the economy.

"Economists say one way to grow this economy is by extending unemployment benefits because these workers then plow that money immediately back into the economy," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a democrat, said.

At today's rally four protesters went so far as to block traffic briefly on Varick Street. They were arrested.

Despite that and the general gloom of no job and no benefits, we did find some optimism here from people like Connie Kaplan. Her benefits ran out in March.

"Like I said to your question about what happens when the money runs out. I don't look at that. Today the world is hearing our voices," she said.

Republicans in Congress want spending cuts of $5 billion to $6 billion a month as a condition for extending emergency benefits that are scheduled to expire next month.

Up to 2 million people could lose the benefits if the Democratic-controlled Congress doesn't act. As many as 5 million could be hit by the end of February.

Jobless people are eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits in most states. The first 26 weeks are paid by states. About 3.7 million draw them now.

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