SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — It could be anything but a Merry Christmas for tens of thousands in Massachusetts. Unemployment benefits are set to expire for about 45,000 people unless a federal extension is passed.
Along with figuring out how to avoid the fiscal cliff, Congress would have to decide how to pay for the benefits. The uncertainty over federal unemployment extensions has become the norm since the recession began.
“If I don’t have a full-time job at that point with benefits, I’m going to be very scared,” said Jeffrey O’Toole-Roselli, an unemployed warehouse worker who was looking for a job at the FurtureWorks Career Center in Springfield. “My wife just got laid off, too.”
“I’ve been out here everyday looking for work,” said Climmie Sanders, another job seeker at FutureWorks. “My job just ended doing landscaping. I’m looking hopefully in the future to have something permanent.”
“I don’t care what it is,” said Sanders. “I’m not a picky guy. I love working. Working’s my life.”
In October, FutureWorks saw a 68% increase in job seekers getting hired compared to October 2011. There was also a 76% increase in job postings. But the center is still cautiously optimistic.
“I want to see another two months of above previous year experience before I call it a trend,” said Kevin Lynn, Manager of Business Services at FutureWorks. “But it’s a good sign.”
Nationwide, two million people are at risk of losing benefits at the end of the year.