There are 15,000 Georgians who are losing extended unemployment pay this weekend. The loss of the extra benefits comes because the state’s jobless rate is dropping. And some of those workers are also losing hope they will find a job.
The federal program was only available in states where the jobless rate had remained stubbornly high.
It offered up to 20 more weeks of benefits. With Georgia’s unemployment rate at 9 percent, the program has expired.
Brenda Brown is with the Georgia Department of Labor. She says the program works differently from other jobless benefits.
“If you were entitled to 20 weeks and you’ve only drawn ten weeks, you cannot continue to draw those additional 10 weeks," she said. "It ends and whatever balance you have remaining, you’re not entitled to draw that because of the law.”
Many of those affected haven’t worked for nearly two years.
Martin Wild of Duluth is among those losing jobless benefits. The 59-year-old trained chemist lost his job in 2010 and he says, at the time he expected to find work quickly.
“It’s very hard because I’ve gone my whole life without being at any time away from work," he said at a state employment center in metro Atlanta. "The only time I was away from work was when I worked in South America. I came back without a job. Within two or three weeks, I had already started working again.”
On average, affected workers are losing $260 in weekly benefits.