1.1 million Californians could lose unemployment benefits soon
About 1.1 million out-of-work Californians will lose their state or federal unemployment insurance beginning in early January if the two houses of Congress can't cut a deal.
The state Employment Development Department reported Wednesday, the day after GOP House Speaker John Boehner sent his members home, that the first people to stop drawing biweekly benefits will be about 100,000 people on the so-called Fed-Ed program. Fed-Ed provides up to 99 weeks of support of up to $450 a week for the long-term unemployed in the Golden State.
Other people will be cut off more gradually. Those receiving state-financed support will stop getting insurance payments as soon as their initial 26 weeks of benefits ends.
The jobless who receive benefits under one of three federal extensions will lose support at the end of their current tier, the EDD said.
EDD Director Pam Harris said her agency is doing all it can to provide information to its clients about the congressional negotiations.
"We know unemployment is a stressful experience at any time, and we understand that the uncertainty surrounding the benefit extensions adds to that stress, especially during the holiday season," Harris said.
In all, about 585,000 unemployed workers in California exhausted all available benefits from either the state or federal government as of Dec. 19, the EDD said.
Last week, Democratic and Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate agreed to a compromise to extend a federal payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits during the first two months of 2012 to buy time to forge a yearlong deal. Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, rejected that agreement, setting the stage for the expiration of both the tax cut and the unemployment benefits Dec. 31.
-- Marc Lifsher
Photo: Unemployed people check listings at a Westminister job center. Credit: Jaec Hong / Associated Press