Special Report Your Job

Losing their lifeline - 7,000 a day

As the Senate debates whether to extend unemployment benefits, more than 200,000 jobless Americans are set to see their checks stop in October.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney.com senior writer

gregg_rock.03.jpg
Gregg Rock of Huntington, N.Y., ran out of unemployment benefits last week.
Unemployed -- without a lifeline
In July, CNNMoney.com told the stories of 4 out-of-work Americans who had just lost their unemployment benefits. Here's where they are today.
At what level will the Dow Jones industrial average end 2009?
  • Above 11,000
  • Between 10,000 and 11,000
  • At 10,000
  • Below 10,000
Millions of job openings!

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Another day, another 7,000 people run out of unemployment benefits.

One month after the House passed a bill extending unemployment benefits, the issue is still being debated in the Senate.

Democratic leaders in the Senate introduced a bill two weeks ago to lengthen benefits in all states by 14 weeks. Those that live in states with unemployment greater than 8.5% would receive an additional six weeks.

Senate Republicans want to add several amendments, including one that would pay for the extra benefits with stimulus funds rather than by extending a federal unemployment tax.

While leaders in both parties are trying to negotiate a compromise, Senate Democrats Wednesday took a step to bring the bill to the floor as early as the end of next week. If it passes, the Senate legislation must then be reconciled with the House version, which extends benefits by 13 weeks in high-unemployment states.

Meanwhile, the bickering has cost people like Crystal Jordan of Dolton, Ill., their benefits. The single mother of three ran out in late September.

She is one of the 1.3 million people set to lose their benefits before year's end if Congress doesn't act, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group. In October alone, more than 200,000 people will fall off the rolls.

Lawmakers twice lengthened the time people can receive checks to as much as 79 weeks, depending on the state.

Jordan lost her administrative support job in the spring of 2008. She had never been unemployed before and hasn't been able to find work since, despite sending out 10 resumes a day.

Jordan is also finishing her bachelor's degree in business management. She hopes that will give her the edge she needs to find a job in 2010.

The $1,000 check she received every two weeks allowed her to pay the rent and feed her family. Now, she doesn't know how she'll cover next month's bills.

"I am fearful we will all end up on the street because I can't find a job and have no income," Jordan said. "Everyone's household is extremely tight at the moment so I cannot lean on friends or family for any support."

More Americans than ever before are in Jordan's situation. More than one in three people who are unemployed have been out of work for at least six months, according to the law project. The unemployment rate hit a 26-year high of 9.8% in September.

"We're talking about people who've been unemployed for well over a year," said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the law project. "If they had savings, it's gone. This is their last lifeline."

Gregg Rock, a business strategy consultant, drained his savings after joining the ranks of the unemployed in summer 2008. He was forced to move back to his mother's home in Huntington, N.Y., for the first time in more than 20 years.

With so many people looking for work, Rock feels his best chance is land a new job is through networking. But it costs him $18 just to trek into Manhattan, not to mention $4 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, where he often meets people who he hopes will lead him to a job.

Rock's benefits ran out last week. Now, he says, he'll be forced to drive a cab at night or take a bartending job just to earn enough to keep job hunting.

"Unemployment is what allows you to afford to be out there networking," Rock said. To top of page

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
8 must-have travel apps Whether you've got wanderlust or an airline grievance, here are some apps to pack onto your phone. More
Hot stocks: 10 record breaking companies The S&P 500 is trading at all-time highs, and many well-known businesses are leading the charge. Time to buy or sell? More
My biggest retirement mistake Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from. What they would do differently if they had another chance. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.