Hundreds set to lose unemployment benefits in Wyoming

2013-12-22T10:00:00Z Hundreds set to lose unemployment benefits in WyomingBy KYLE ROERINK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
December 22, 2013 10:00 am  • 

Six hundred Wyomingites and 1.3 million other Americans will lose their unemployment insurance benefits on Saturday.

The loss comes after Congress didn't renew the Emergency Unemployed Compensation program put into place in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Advocates for renewing the measure were hoping a provision to renew the program could slide into the Ryan-Murray budget that’s awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature. But a push for extending the subsidy might have prevented the compromise that helped usher the budget bill through both chambers — a feat unseen in Washington since 2009. Congress has authorized spending since then without voting on a new budget.

President George W. Bush and the 111th Congress enacted the measure shortly after the Great Recession took hold. Proponents of an extension say it’s necessary because the nation still has 1.5 million fewer jobs than it did in 2008, when the program went into effect, according to a report from U.S. House Democrats in the Ways and Means Committee.

The insurance gave extra financial help to people who had been out of work for between 26 and 40 weeks. Congress has reduced the number of weeks for which an eligible person could receive benefits in the past two years. At one time the benchmark was 99 weeks.

Benefit recipients who qualified for the program didn’t quit and weren’t terminated by their prior employer. They were either laid off or had another circumstance force them to lose their job. They had to actively be looking for a job in order to receive the payments.

The maximum a person could receive was $471 per week. The minimum was $35, and the average was $300, according to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. The amounts depended on wages previously earned.

This year wasn’t a good year for Americans dependent upon government programs. The budget cuts known as sequestration hit domestic programs and cost the country 750,000 fewer new jobs from being created or retained, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

A provision giving a larger monthly amount of food stamps to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program beneficiaries also ended.

“People forget about these little things,” said Mike Evangelist, policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, a left-leaning think tank in Manhattan. “Congress has been chipping away. Our economy won’t collapse, but it’s going to hurt individuals.”

The report from the Ways and Means panel's Democrats said the benefits remain a financial lifeline for Americans searching for work

“Eliminating these benefits will not only cause needless harm to many families, but also put yet another hurdle in front of the nation’s economic growth,” according to the report. “… The primary impact of extended benefits is to keep people looking for work.”

Even though recipients have to be actively looking for jobs, members of Wyoming's all-Republican congressional delegation think differently than Democrats.

The labor participation rate is at a 35-year low, said Laura Mengelkamp, spokeswoman for Sen. John Barrasso.

“Americans have given up looking for work,” she said.

Sen. Mike Enzi worries that unemployment benefits discourage people from looking for work.

Unemployment isn’t fixed by only providing benefits, Enzi spokesman Dan Head said.

Congress should focus more on creating an economic climate that fosters job creation through tax reform, repealing Obamacare and removing government red tape, he said.

“The program was designed to provide short-term assistance, not a permanent check from the government,” Head said.

More cuts will come in 2014 to people who have been unemployed for less than 26 weeks. In June, 3,700 more Wyomingites and an additional 1.9 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits if Congress doesn’t act.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. Pops
    Report Abuse
    Pops - December 26, 2013 7:39 pm
    Being unemployed is an important phase of job growth economics. Employers will lose jobs and gain jobs as manufacturing adapts to increased automation through advanced technologies. The trick is to match the job with the work prospect. We need to develop a system of workplace staffing that identifies and locates the person for the job. the system should also identify the unemployable. A government works project should provide training for the chronically unemployed. When properly trained, these people could provide the labor to maintain the national parks,interstates and infrastructure of the U.S.
  2. TeaPublican
    Report Abuse
    TeaPublican - December 23, 2013 6:48 pm
    And you know what? Tomorrow morning Six hundred Wyomingites and 1.3 million other Americans will be picking up a job application somewhere! Now THAT is awesome!
  3. Kool Kat
    Report Abuse
    Kool Kat - December 23, 2013 8:55 am
    Attn 99, Boehner and other spineless republicans told the President and Senate that they would vote for $1.5 trillion debt spending to the debt. But the President has to decide where to spend it.
    Spend it on unemployment benefits or ACA/Obamacare? The President (knowing full well) that he can't let ACA/Obamacare going under before it starts, chose to let unemployment benefits expire.
    But I do agree with you, they should had killed ACA/Obamacare and infused unemployment benefits to millions. But the republicans were to spineless to let the President pick to poison of $1.5 trillion of more debt spending.
  4. glendorealist
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    glendorealist - December 23, 2013 8:14 am
    99, your absolutely right. It was Bush that put the economy in the irreversible downward spiral.
  5. mr
    Report Abuse
    mr - December 23, 2013 6:03 am
    It's easy enough to find talent out there if you just put a little effort into it. Sites such as LinkedIn, and even Facebook, offer a plethora of eager workers that you don't have to incur ridiculous fees to hire.
    And if you don't want to manage your own talent, you can work with Network Agencies such as Pomegranate that offer competitive rates on a wide array of talent WITH quality control AND guarantee of phenomenal work.
  6. mr
    Report Abuse
    mr - December 23, 2013 6:01 am

    Overpriced, Underpaid
    Staffing agencies mark up their workers about 150% on average. That means that if the worker gets paid $30 / hour, the staffing agency will charge you $75 / hour.
    These margins create big problems for several reasons. Firstly, since the worker is underpaid, they’ll generally log double their time to make up for the low hourly pay. What this means is that a 10 hour job ends up being billed at 15 - 20 hours.
    And since the staffing agency offers no management, you’ll be forced to incur the additional costs of hiring your own internal management team - even though you are paying a rate for the worker that is parallel to what full-services agencies would charge.
  7. mr
    Report Abuse
    mr - December 23, 2013 5:58 am
    Seriously . Wyoming has work. Maybe not high paying oilfield jobs so much anymore. Temp services have ruined wyoming like the did the east coast . That's a lose-lose situation for everybody but the temp agencies.
  8. Pdawg
    Report Abuse
    Pdawg - December 23, 2013 5:19 am
    Hmmm so someone is already down on there luck.. They have been let go for whatever reason and we the employers pay into unemployment insurance and now even though we're still paying the same amount ur going to cut the employees funding huh....

    Gee why not just hand out masks and guns and maps to the banks... No wonder our crime rate is on the skyrocket the government is a reeling it's people over and over..... Take everything away from a man he will do the only thing he can do... Survive.. Our government is so clueless.. Oh that's right that's OK they went on strike and still collected fat checks....
  9. Don Wills
    Report Abuse
    Don Wills - December 22, 2013 6:28 pm
    Why is Enzi's picture at the top of this article? Hmmmm. Could it be that the CST is in the bag for Liz?
  10. 99Savage
    Report Abuse
    99Savage - December 22, 2013 12:53 pm
    Hmmm. Lessee if I understand all this. The executive branch is run by democrats. The senate is run by democrats. The house is run by a bunch of impotent republicans led by the spinless crybaby Boehner that allow the democrats to run roughshod all over them. So lets blame the repubs anyway for the Obamcare debacle and the loss of unemployment benefits. And , oh yes, the failure of Obama and the economy also for the last five years. Yep, it's all Bush's fault.
  11. dd ric
    Report Abuse
    dd ric - December 22, 2013 10:37 am
    BARRASSO,ENZI,and LUMMIS do NOT care. It.s the Trues,McMurrays and the Heritage Foundation and Cindys' T-Party friends that they respond to,NOT Wyoming citizens OR voters. ddric
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