Unemployment Still High

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL - Mary Johnson lost her restaurant job in late 2008. With no unemployment benefits, she’s living on food stamps and doing odd jobs.

“Sales and lots of cleaning jobs,” said Mary.

Some Floridians will soon need a lesson in survival from Mary. At the end of the year three federally funded unemployment programs are set to expire and thousands will have no income.

“We estimate that approximately 100-thousand Floridians will lose these benefits on or around December 4th, and approximately 40-thousand a week thereafter,” said Robby Cunningham, a spokesman with AWI.

A stalemate in Congress is causing the benefits to expire. Lawmakers could reach an agreement in December to reinstate some of the programs, but with Congress making a right turn with new members in January any extension could be short lived.

At issue is borrowing 12 billion dollars to extend the benefits for three months. Conservatives say we can’t afford it, but they are anxious to pass a 200 billion dollar tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. In the meantime state business taxes are tripling to pay for the unemployed.

“It will difficult for many businesses to afford that kind of an increase at a time when they’d rather be spending dollars hiring new employees,” said David Hart with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The tax won’t come down until Florida’s unemployment rate drops. Labor statistics released Friday show the state’s unemployment rate stagnant at 11.9 percent.

The Agency for Workforce Innovation will be working over the Thanksgiving weekend to help people find out if their federal benefits are in jeopardy. They are also asking job seekers to logon to Employflorida.com to look over the more than 200-thousand jobs posted there.

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