Emergency unemployment benefits end, rate decreasing
Economy EUC program faces approval in the House, would reinstate benefits for hundreds in Yamhill County, thousands in Oregon
With the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program not being extended, benefits for nearly 18,000 Oregonians ended with the start of the new year. A week after those benefits expired, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici declared her support for the program, joining Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
Although the economy is gradually recovering from the Great Recession, there are still too many unemployed Americans, including thousands in Oregon, Bonamici said. Emergency unemployment should be phased out as the economy recovers and the need decreases. It should not end abruptly for so many who need assistance while still looking for employment.
In Yamhill County, there were about 636 people on the EUC program. Tom Fuller, Oregon Employment Department communications manager, said on average each claimant was receiving $293 a week in benefits.
Thats almost $1,200 a month, Fuller said. So if you take that away from somebody and theyre not receiving any other benefits, theres going to be a significant impact.
He said the employment department is offering whatever services they can, included a more concentrated job search, job training with partners and connections to other community resources. But its not enough.
There arent any other benefits for those people, he said.
The EUC program primarily went to those who had used up their state unemployment benefits, which are available for six months.
Fuller said there might be a few instances where a handful of people could go back on state unemployment benefits.
One scenario is a person could have come through the state claim, then went on EUC, then got a job, worked some hours, was laid off and back on the EUC, Fuller said.
With a new claim year, he said its possible they could be eligible to go back on state benefits because they returned to the work force and went directly to the emergency program instead of using their state benefits.
Although there are several hundred people without unemployment benefits in Yamhill County, the unemployment rate is down in Newberg (5.3 percent), Yamhill County (7.4 percent) and in Oregon (7.7 percent).
Martin Kraal, an OED workforce analyst, said comparing November 2012 to November 2013, Newberg has 619 unemployed people, down from 729 last year. Yamhill County estimates 3,130 people, down from 3,768 last year. Statewide estimates were 129,048, compared to 156,298 in 2012.
A three-month extension of the EUC program passed in the Senate Jan. 7. It still must pass in the House of Representatives before implementation.