Extended unemployment benefits to end for 82K in Illinois

December 27, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The clock is ticking right now for thousands of people who receive unemployment benefits. For many, Friday is the last day for financial help. Some fear this will hurt an already tough economy.

Mark Eaglebarger says he knocking on doors and clicking online, looking for a job in the freight industry or in customer service.

"Unfortunately during the holiday season, it's put a slowdown to the job hunting situation," said Eaglebarger.

At the unemployment office on Friday, he tells Eyewitness News how his situation is about to get worse. He'll be most likely get cut off from his unemployment benefits soon.

Starting on Saturday, 82,000 people in Illinois will lose their extended unemployment insurance coverage.

"I have bills to pay and now I have no way to pay them now that they're cutting me off in a few more days," said Sade Wilson.

Wilson is looking for a job in the culinary field. She's disappointed in some lawmakers who recently blocked an effort to extend the emergency unemployment program which was designed to help people like her, who collect benefits for longer than 26 weeks.

Congressman Mike Quigley is hoping that lawmakers will agree to reinstate the extension in the new year, otherwise, he says the economy may take another hit.

"I think sometimes people forget just how devastating this recession was, how many people it impacted and how slow the recovery has become," said Rep. Quigley.

But as of now, 1.3 million people nationwide will lose those emergency unemployment benefits by this weekend.

"If you work hard enough and long enough it will happen, but then again, time is something that we don't have much of," said Eaglebarger.

Eaglebarger and Wilson say despite the new obstacle, they are not giving up.

"I'm very determined even if they do cut it off, I'm still going to be looking," said Wilson.

The unemployment rate is improving nationwide at 7 percent, but here in Illinois, it is still at a high rate of 8.9 percent.

Some lawmakers do believe that ending extended benefits will force people to find work faster, but many people looking for work say that the jobs simply aren't there.

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