EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 19, 2013

Thousands due to lose federal unemployment benefits Dec. 28

ValleyWorks Career Center ready to help jobless

HAVERHILL — Arthur Chilingirian, director of ValleyWorks Career Center, is gearing up to assist some of the 58,000 people in Massachusetts who are due to lose their federal unemployment benefits at the end of the month.

“It’s a bad time of year for this to happen. It’s going to hurt a lot of people,” he said. “We are willing to work with them and help them any way we can.”

With an extension of unemployment benefits not included in a Congressional budget bill speeding toward the president’s desk, approximately 58,000 people in Massachusetts are scheduled to lose their benefits.

According to the state, a small percentage of those individuals will be eligible to “open, re-open or resume” a state claim for benefits in cases where an individual worked during the past year and earned enough wages to qualify under certain circumstances. A large portion, however, will lose access to unemployment benefits Dec. 28 unless Congress acts to extend the federal program, which could cost as much as $25 billion for a full year.

The ValleyWorks Career Center (VWCC) can help those struggling to find employment. VWCC is a one-stop career center, providing a wide range of services to job seekers and businesses, youth to adults in the Merrimack Valley. They are located in Lawrence and Haverhill.

While most states provide 26 weeks of unemployment benefits before federal benefits kick in for the long-term unemployed, Massachusetts offers up to 30 weeks. Since 2008, Congress has authorized a federal extension of benefits that allows the unemployed to access benefits for up to 47 weeks more, or 77 weeks in total in Massachusetts.

Chilingirian says the timing on this is far from ideal considering the holidays are right around the corner.

The President is also aware this is poor timing for struggling families. Last Friday, President Barack Obama met at the White House with more than a dozen newly elected mayors and mayors-elect from the around the country, including Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh. Discussing the budget deal, Obama noted that an unemployment insurance extension was not included and “needs to be right away.”

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