Hoosiers lose federal jobless benefits - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Hoosiers lose federal jobless benefits

Holly Griffin Holly Griffin

More than 19,000 out-of-work Hoosiers are finding themselves out of jobless benefits as well.

The federal government's "emergency unemployment compensation" program came to a halt Saturday after Congress failed to extend it.

Holly Griffin is among those both frustrated and worried to see her federal benefits ending. Griffin was laid off from an architectural firm in April. It was a job she'd held for six years.

"I'm 51 years old. I've been working since I was 17 and now I find myself behind on rent, my car payment due, my insurance due. Everything is stacking up," Griffin said. "Then they tell me Saturday is my last paycheck for unemployment. I don't understand."

The emergency benefits program was signed into law in 2008 to help out-of-work Americans during the recession. It provides federal assistance to the unemployed when their state aid runs out after six months. Congress has extended it 11 times, but didn't include it in the bipartisan budget deal reached a few weeks ago.

Griffin doesn't hide her anger.

"I'm fed up with the Congress and the government," she says, noting she hasn't been on public assistance since she was 20 and "only for a very short period of time."

Griffin said despite a healthier economy - which some say is a reason to end the federal benefits - it's been tough for her to find a new job.

"I've been on five interviews. I sent out over 65 resumes. I've got a folder that big of job searches and I've been doing it on a daily basis," she said.

Griffin also holds up a folder filled with unpaid bills.

"That's a disconnection notice. This is another," she says pointing to several documents.

Still, employment figures from the numbers from the state indicate a rebound. The unemployment rate in November was 7.3%, down from 7.5% in October and down from a high of over 10% in 2009.

Joe Frank, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said last year at this time, more than 120,000 Hoosiers were getting federal unemployment benefits.

Frank said that's evidence that the economy has "vastly improved this year."

But Griffin isn't convinced. She feels the unemployment rate doesn't reflect those dropped from benefits or who've just given up.

She said her family didn't exchange gifts this year "and we're not having New Year's either, because we're too busy coming up with how to put gas in the car, how to pay our car note and insurance and how to put food in the house. It's very stressful."

Congress is expected to reconsider extending benefits after it reconvenes next week. The questions will be for how long and where the money comes from to pay for it.

Griffin said the only thing she wants in the new year is a new job.

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