In a sign of lingering hardship, more than 15,000 Texans will lose their unemployment checks at the end of the month because they have exhausted their benefits after 59 weeks without a job.
They are among 82,000 Texans who are on their last allotment of unemployment benefits. Though they are eligible for a further extension funded by the federal government, it could take weeks or months to receive.
Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken has said people are staying unemployed longer as a woeful economy continues to affect people across the state.
During the week of July 4 this year, there were 22,115 initial claims, compared with 12,541 in the same time period a year earlier. Continued claims for that week totaled 298,821, up from 113,489 in the same time period in 2008.
Advocates for labor and for people with lower incomes are frustrated.
“People are literally in the lurch right now,” said Don Baylor of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for services for lower-income people. Baylor said he’s heard it could be well into the fall before the extra federal extension kicks in, adding, “That’s going to be really, really difficult for thousands of Texans who are losing their benefits.”
Some of these folks are going to lose their houses as a result of this, which needless to say isn’t going to make the overall economic picture any better.
[Texas Workforce Commission spokeswoman Ann] Hatchitt said Tuesday the state will need to borrow about $643 million from the federal government through Oct. 1, an increase of $150 million from the $493 million projected just last month.
Despite the tough times, Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday stood by his decision to oppose the state getting another $555 million in federal stimulus money that was contingent on it changing its jobless benefits to allow more people to qualify for payments.
Perry’s “principled” stand is going to cost the state and its businesses a lot of money, and that’s before we take into account the extra helpings of misery that the folks who could have benefited from the expansion of the program will endure. I don’t know what else there is to say that hasn’t already been said.
Well, okay there is one more thing.
Despite the loan, Gov. Perry defended his decision to those who questioned it.
“They are shortsighted and probably criticizing for a political reason rather than a legitimate financial reason,” Gov. Perry said.
Sure, because there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING POLITICAL about the rejection of the unemployment stimulus funds in the first place. Why can’t Governor Perry’s critics understand that? He was just operating in Texas’ best interests, politics be damned!