LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As many as 82,000 Texans whose benefits ran out will not receive the 13-week extensions they expected,at least for now. The state plans to borrow $643-million from the federal government to cover the checks.
Unemployment insurance is not a locally run program, but WorkForce Solutions in Lufkin is providing some guidance for concerned East Texans. Information specialists end up answering a lot of questions better suited for the Austin based Texas Wokforce Commission. The inquiries pertain to expected unemployment checks. "Their unemployment for the six month time period has run out and they're just curious about when they can possibly receive some more information or receive the extension part of their unemployment," Sandra Rodriguez, WorkForce Solutions information specialist said.
WorkForce Solutions employees help where they can, but their knowledge about this episode and limitations placed by TWC on what they can say create barriers. The best place to go is to the Texas Workforce Commission web site. http://www.texasworkforce.org/ Questions can be submitted by e mail. Replies generally come within a couple of days. You can also place a phone call, but expect a wait that may seem like days. "Because of the tremendous amount of calls that have come in to the unemployment insurance office in Austin and the various call centers it's very difficult to get through via telephone," Jon Bunn, WorkForce Solutions business development manager explained. Workforce solutions will help customers set up e-mail addresses and provide computers.
TWC is hiring additional staff. Once payments are restored, they will be retroactive to the date they were cut off. "I know they're going to find the money and take care of that," Charlene Meadows, WorkForce Solutions executive director said in a reassuring tone. "But there are still people out there who need jobs and jobs that have gone away."
"They're worried because their income has run out and you know bills do come in on a monthly basis," sensed Rodriguez.
Right now there are almost 10,921 East Texans receiving unemployment insurance in a 12 county region. Last year at this time there were a far fewer, 4,585 receiving benefits. In June of last year there were 7,584 active job seekers in our East Texas 12 county region. This June, there are 13,108 people working hard to find a job. Last year, there were 1,665 job openings. Right now, only 969 are listed.
©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Texas Workforce Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT: Ann Hatchitt
DATE: July 15, 2009 PHONE: (512) 463-8556
All Qualified Unemployment Claimants Will Receive Benefits
Funds are available, benefits safe
AUSTIN -The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is advising all currently qualified unemployment claimants that their benefits will be paid. Currently, more than 350,000 out-of-work Texans are receiving up to 59 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Benefits are paid through the Texas Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, and during periods of high unemployment claim volume, interest-free loans are available to states from the federal government. Similar loans were utilized by TWC in 2003 resulting in uninterrupted payment of benefits.
TWC Adds Staff at Workforce Centers to Help Texans Find Jobs
Texas jobseekers now have more assistance available as 348 new staff members have been added to workforce centers across the state, bringing the number of TWC Employment Services staff to nearly 1,000. TWC has hired the temporary employment services workers through funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Employment Services staff provide jobseekers help with services including job referrals, career counseling, training and support, and other employment services. In addition, the staff works with employers to post job openings and train their existing workforce.
TWC Advises Long-Term Unemployment Claimants Status in State Extended Benefits
Approximately 15,000 long-term unemployment claimants who have received benefits for more than a year are being advised that there will be a delay in receiving the newly-enacted 13 weeks of state extended benefits. At the end of May, the Texas legislature approved the changes which allow for state extended benefits which have not been available since the early 1980s. This 13-week state extension is completely federally funded and is available to claimants that have exhausted 59 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Those who qualify for the extension will receive payments retroactive to the date their current benefits end. The delay in the 13-week state benefit extension stems from complex federal requirements that must be programmed into TWC's computer system. The requirements for federally funded state extended benefits are significantly more stringent than the requirements for the previous federal extended benefit programs. All possible effort has been directed at addressing the necessary transition of the system to accommodate the stringent federal requirements. TWC is committed to implementing the newly enacted state extended benefits as soon as possible.
The Texas Workforce Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers and communities prosper economically. For details on TWC and the programs it offers in unison with its network of local workforce development boards, call (512) 463-8556 or visit www.texasworkforce.org.