Many Americans out of work are starting off the new year struggling even more now that their long-term unemployment benefits have run out.
The last of the federal government's extensions expired December 28th. The senate could vote on a new unemployment benefits bill once lawmakers return to session January 3rd, but of course there's no guarantee.
The standard length of time for someone to receive unemployment checks is 26 weeks. However, California's situation has been so bad the last couple years the government allowed some people up to 99 weeks. Now that the deal has expired, everyone past that 26-week mark will not see another dime.
Fresno County's unemployment rate is 12.6%. Jose Gallegos of Clovis is a part of that statistic.
"It's tough, it's really tough," said Jose Gallegos, a job seeker.
The 43-year old has more to worry about than just himself.
"I'm a single dad. I've got three still at home. One under 18 and the other two are struggling to go to college," said Gallegos.
Gallegos was working as a maintenance man for local retail stores until his employer laid him off last May. He's since filled out applications just about everywhere.
"I've got 60 alone I can think of top of my head," said Gallegos.
Gallegos just received a letter notifying him that his 26-week collection period is up and he will not get anymore unemployment checks.
"It's not fair that the government goes, we're just going to cut it off here," said Gallegos.
He's now in a bind and wonders how he'll even make his rent.
"I don't want to make a condominium out of cardboard boxes for my children," said Gallegos.
1.3 million Americans across the country are in the same boat. 214,000 are Californians. It's prompted president Obama to publicly call out lawmakers. He's urging them to extend long term aid by passing a new unemployment benefits bill. The sticking point is that it has a $25-billion.
"If congress refuses to act it won't just hurt families already struggling, it will actually harm our economy. Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective Ways of boosting our economy. When people have money to spend on basic necessities that means more customers for our businesses and ultimately more jobs," said President Barack Obama.
Gallegos agrees and has a message of his own for Congress.
"Let's switch places for 30 or 60 days. You have my job and I have yours," said Gallegos.
There is a program out there called Keep Your Home California. It can give you up to $3,000 a month toward your mortgage payment for a full year. To see if you qualify, visit the web link we've setup on this page.
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