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Friday, January 10, 2014

Unemployment may run out on Arizonians

When you're unemployed the bills pile up.
Arizona's unemployment rate is just under 8.2%

By Samantha Hopkins

What's happening?

In as soon as by the end of the month, some 17,000 jobless Arizonans may be at risk of losing their federal unemployment insurance.  This change comes from an omission in the recently proposed budget deal proposed to congress during the second week of December.

What an awful time to become unemployed too. With the holiday season right around the corner it really feels like congress has chosen the worst time to put these people at risk of losing their job. 
What congress said

Currently, congress is in its winter break and all proposed bills or extensions will have to wait until work resumes in the new year.  Advocating for this extension is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  In a recent quote Reid stated,

"I will stand up for those Americans who want to get back to work as soon as possible but face a market where there is only one job opening for every three unemployed workers,” Reid said. “That is why I will push for an extension of unemployment insurance, as well as an increase in the minimum wage, when the Senate convenes after the New Year.”

The act, titled, "The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program" was created in 2008 as a response to the unusually high unemployment rates around the US.  Since its inception, the act has been modified several times, most recently in 2012 where the expiration date was pushed back until January 1st, 2014.

While the January 1st cut off date would affect a little over 17,000 residents, an additional 22.500 would lose their benefits within the first 6 months of the new year.  On a nationwide scale, almost 1.3 million Americans will be left without benefits as the month's end inches closer and closer. Healthcare and other benefits is also something that has becoming absolutely neccessary in this age. With medical bills and prescription costs only skyrocketing everyone needs some kind of assistance in case something awful happens.

Where Arizona ranks

In terms of the other states, Arizona had the 10th highest unemployment rate in the nation.  Arizona's current unemployment rate sits at just about 8.2%, that's about 1.2% over the national average. Under the current law, Arizonan's are eligible for up to 63 weeks of benefits.  However, if the program is not renewed when congress comes back into sessions, this 63 weeks will be cut short by 37 and will have only be accessible for up to 26.

Since the program was adopted by Arizona, almost 400,000 residents have received aid from the program. It's wonderful that these people aren't becomign completely destitute, but receiving aid from the government is only a temporary fix. What really needs to happen is that these people find fulfilling jobs in an industry that they are interested in. Unfortunately the reality of that happening is becoming increasingly dim.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program is not the only government funded program slated for major changes in the new year.  Across the US, many states are raising the premiums for workers' compensation insurance as well as making adjustments to calculating lost wages in a workers' comp case.

About the author: Samatha Hopkins is a law student working on her final year of law school. When she's not studying she likes to peruse the history sections of bookstores and getting in the occasional workout at the gym. She lives with her quirky roommates and their Pomeranian, Honeypot.

Image license: Sal Falko, Creative Commons