By Dari Kotzker
Amanda Gray-McCormick brings her two month old baby with her the few times a week to this One-Stop Career Center for help with her unemployment benefits and finding a job. Now, she received a letter in the mail saying her emergency unemployment compensation ends December 28th.
“How are you not upset, you know what I mean? I worked for the state for a long time. I work and take taxes out of my check and all the sudden now the money I put in, I can’t get back, so now I’m stuck,” said Gray-McCormick.
Amanda is one of approximately 90,000 New Jersey jobless, who will no longer be receiving these emergency benefits starting next week.
“For most of these families they are barely surviving on a what in New Jersey is a very modest weekly payment by way of federal benefits and now that will be gone, and with it their capacity to hold onto apartment, house to heat it, to feed their family properly,” said Gordon MacInnes.
“It is going to have a major impact on New Jersey and to lose your benefits basically in a short notice of time is really going to put them in a struggling position,” said John Fugazzie from Neighbors-helping-Neighbors USA
Democratic Congressman Rush Holt had hoped that the extensions would’ve been rolled in the budget that recently passed, but he expects there will be a stand alone piece of legislation that may be get taken up when congress reconvenes in January.
“It needn’t be partisan, it shouldn’t be partisan, for good economic reason because this is an insurance program, everyone show support it. It tends to be the Republicans are saying we can have any give away program it’s not a give away program, it’s an insurance program,” said Holt.
Holt says it’s the economy to blame, not the people out of work, so that’s another reason benefits should continue.
“Some people look at it as a character flaw if you’re out of work. These are hard working Americans in a tough economic time,” said Holt.
New Jersey has the largest percentage of its workforce who rely on the long-term benefits compared to any other state. So, when they end, what are their alternatives?
“I can see an upswing who will come to rely on community food bank, and its subsidiary, I can see people trying for emergency aid from state. And again from non profits,” said MacInnes.
“I have to try to find a job which isn’t exactly the easier thing, so I have no idea, I have to do it day by day. I’ll have to talk to my landlord and see if he can be lenient for month or so to have the rent not paid,” said Gray-McCormick.
Holt says if a bill is passed to reinstate the extensions, the hope would be that people would receive money retroactively.
Visit Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors website to learn more about job search support.