25,000 Coloradans set to lose unemployment benefits before holidays

8:30 PM, Nov 30, 2010   |    comments
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Nationwide, more than 800,000 workers who have been searching for jobs for at least 6 months could spend the holidays without unemployment benefits.

That number would reach 2 million by New Year's Eve and another 2 million would be added to that by the end of February.

Lawmakers returned from their Thanksgiving break Monday without voting to extend them, leaving many wondering what's to come.

The Denver Workforce Center off of Speer Boulevard and 14th Avenue is already seeing the effects of the delay.

"People are calling asking questions, like, 'What is Congress going to do?' A lot of questions coming in," Don Mares with the Department of Labor and Unemployment said.

Every computer was taken at the Denver Workforce Resource Center and the lobby was full-with people looking and applying for jobs on Tuesday.

Sylvester Gibson is one of them.

"I've been laid off from my job for going on 15 months now. The business I worked for closed down and moved to California. They laid off 300 people. I have been looking ever since," Gibson said.

Gibson has applied to hundreds of jobs with no success. His unemployment benefits just ran out.

"We all know it's hard to find jobs right now. I'm stressed and concerned about bills and making ends meet," Gibson said.

A bill extending unemployment insurance during the holidays failed in the House last Friday.

Mares says thousands of Coloradans are now going to lose their benefits at the worst time of year.

"There will be about 25,000 people who are going to immediately lose their benefits right now and there will be 6,000 a week for the next few weeks so it's quite a few people," Mares said.

For those, like Gibson, hope that Congress will extend the benefits is what they're riding on this holiday season.

"It's going to be hard for a lot of people. I hope to find a job as soon as possible. And I hope unemployment benefits will be extended," Gibson said.

Although congressional leaders have said unemployment is a priority, no vote has been scheduled for the extension.

Learn more about unemployment benefits through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's website.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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