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Unemployed frustrated over possible loss of aid
Checks could run out
People search for jobs on the Internet Thursday at the Georgia Department of Labor Office. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Check available benefits

Jobless people can call the Department of Labor's toll-free number at 866-873-5676 to find out how many weeks of benefits they have left under their current tier. Individuals who receive State Extended Benefits could already have received notice of the termination of their benefits.

After Janice Bradley receives her next unemployment benefits check, she may pack up her belongings, lock the door on her Gainesville home and move north to live with her father in Illinois.

Next week's unemployment check could be the last for 55-year-old Bradley - as well as 25,500 other Georgians if Congress fails to extend unemployment benefits that expired earlier this week.

About 84,000 other Georgians could lose their benefits by year's end, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. County-specific figures are not available.

Before the recession began in 2007, a person could receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks.

Since then, Congress has passed five extensions that affect residents in Georgia and allow an individual to apply for further tiers of benefits and receive unemployment for up to 99 weeks.

But without another extension by Congress, individuals will no longer be able to apply for benefits under the next tier when theirs expire.

That means people with 15 weeks left in their tier will have that many weeks of unemployment checks left. But someone with just one week remaining could soon run out.

Additionally, all 25,500 individuals covered under the federally funded State Extended Benefits could receive their last check next week.

On Thursday at the Department of Labor Career Center in Gainesville, many waiting in the lobby expressed confusion over the changes.

Bradley said she's frustrated. She's wanted to move closer to her family in Illinois since she was laid off as a lab technician a year ago. But she wishes the situation was different.

If she can't sell her house if she leaves, it will go into foreclosure, she said.

"I hate it," she said. "But I just can't afford it anymore."

Anne Dittman, co-director of the Career Connection group in Gainesville, said this is "crisis time" for those who rely on unemployment.

"Many of them, it's not only a wife or a husband, but it's both of them who are out of a job," she said. "Money is running out from the government and from their own savings."

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, who has voted against similar extensions to unemployment benefits in the past, said in an e-mail statement that he would not support an extension because the need to do so has been an admission of failed policies from Democratic leadership.

"To truly help the unemployed, our government must fundamentally reverse course and take steps to empower the private sector to expand and create jobs," he said.

October data showed the unemployment rate in Hall County at 8.8 percent, under the national 9.6 percent rate and state's 9.9 percent rate.