Californians: Unemployment News

December 9, 2011 by staff 

Californians: Unemployment News, With the prospect of 305,400 Californians losing unemployment insurance on Dec. 31, local labor unions and unemployed workers held a candlelight vigil Thursday to urge Congress to extend their benefits.

Federal unemployment insurance, which currently adds up to 73 weeks of benefits once state coverage runs out, is set to expire for more than two million Americans at the end of the year.

“Without it, it almost puts me in the street,” said unemployed iron worker Doug Von Mauw.

Von Mauw, 54, says he’s struggled to find work since 2009, and relies heavily on his weekly unemployment check of $450.

“Instead of screaming for more handouts, they ought to be screaming to make it so they can get jobs,” said T.J. Zane, president of the Lincoln Club, which was holding a fundraiser with local business leaders across the street from the vigil.

Republican leaders in Congress previewed their plan to fund a federal unemployment insurance program Thursday. The GOP bill, which is still being crafted, would shorten federal benefits from 73 weeks to 33 weeks.

House Speaker John Boehner said he felt “confident in our ability to move ahead,” and said the party would aim for a vote next week on both unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts.

Without an extension of the federal benefits, the only unemployment compensation available will be 26 weeks of state-funded insurance. Congress has never allowed unemployment insurance to expire with the jobless rate above 7.2%.

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