Alabamians not getting unemployment money from federal government

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Matt Jenkins will tell you--a year and a half without a job hasn't been easy.

"Feels like you're at a dead end, can't go anywhere. You keep trying and trying and trying. It does kinda get to you after a while," he says.

But now, it's even harder since his unemployment benefits have ended.

"I wish I had known this earlier because I wouldn't have been stuck with all my bills coming in at once on me," adds Jenkins.

Jenkins is one of thousands of Alabamians feeling the pain after federal lawmakers failed to pass an extension for unemployment benefits for people who have been out of work for more than six months.

"All they told me was that I'll just have to do my weekly benefits...keep calling every week," he says.

Anyone in Alabama who's eligible for unemployment benefits could receive up to 26 weeks of state funded compensation. But it's 73 weeks of federally funded extensions that thousands of Alabamians are in danger of losing.

"What that means now is that if you lose your job and you file for unemployment compensation benefits today, you are only eligible for the state funded portion of 26 weeks. There are no federal extensions available to you at this point," says Tara Hutchison with the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

Hutchison says since Congress hasn't renewed the extensions "all of the people who were receiving those extended benefits...they've expired."

It's leaving everyone wondering what's next.

"I guess it's a wait game," says Jenkins.

"We're waiting to see what Congress does and as soon as we get word, then we'll be able to continue paying," adds Hutchison.

State officials are still able to pay people up to 26-weeks of compensation through state funds.

They're hopeful Congress will vote to re-extend federal benefits as early as next week.

If they do state officials expect them to compensate recipients for the money they haven't been getting.

The jobless rate moving in the right direction in Alabama: down.

The figure dropped significantly in June to 10.3%.  That's down from May's rate of 10.7%.

Shelby County has the lowest unemployment numbers at 7.7%.

Wilcox County has the highest at just over 23%.

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