The impact of the unemployment benefits vote will be felt locally

By Julia Bruck - bioemail

MARION, IL (KFVS) - Decisions made thousands of miles away, leave a sting in the Heartland.

Senate Republicans defeated a bill to continue jobless benefits for millions of long term unemployed workers.  But the decision is expected to hurt many in southern Illinois, where unemployment is already high.

For more than a year, unemployment dollars have been Kate Belden's lifeline. Recently she learned the assistance would soon end.

"Very scary," Belden said.

Currently Belden attends class at Southern Illinois University with the hopes one day of teaching.

She also works part-time.  However with a family of four to feed those dollars are just not enough, so she relies on her jobless benefits for help.

"We've used it for groceries, rent, car payments, everything,"  Belden said.

Kathy Lively is the CEO of Man-Tra-Con, a place where folks receive job and training assistance.  She says with unemployment extensions cut, they are concerned clients will not complete their training.

"We're going to be doing everything we can to convince them to continue to sacrifice for this next semester to finish their training because that will have an effect on our community colleges, as well as, the university," Lively said.

Lively says due to the recession, unemployment extensions went up.

"I think people have begun to think the federal government understands and is going to continue to take care of them, and unfortunately those decisions are made in Washington DC by legislators who are more concerned about the deficit, which I understand, but they don't look people in the eye," Lively said.

Belden says she also understands the lawmaker's decisions when it comes to the deficit.  However, she adds people, like her, still need to eat.

"I have a job," Belden said.  "I am going to school.  I am trying to better myself but I still need to survive.  So having something like unemployment really helps with the day-to-day things."

Currently if you apply for unemployment, you still can receive six months of benefits.

However, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Unemployment Security says folks can no longer receive an extension of those benefits.

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