Cuts to unemployment will affect about 330 in county PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:41
The expiration of long-term federal unemployment benefits hasn't seemed to hit public assistance enrollment numbers in Wood County so far, and the impact could be minimal overall.
"We don't receive any specific data on that," said David Wigent, director of the Wood County office of Job & Family Services of Ohio. "What we tend to do is watch our enrollment rates in the public assistance program afterward to see if enrollment is going up or down. And, at this time, we haven't seen anything yet that would tell us it's affecting our enrollment rate."
Last month, federal benefits for the long-term unemployed - typically those unemployed for more than six months - ended last month after lawmakers allowed the extended-benefits program to expire, according to the Associated Press. The cutoff affects more than 1.3 million Americans.
The AP reported today that test votes in the U.S. Senate related to stalled legislation to resurrect the benefits have been postponed.
In Ohio, state-funded unemployment benefits last up to 26 weeks, and the federal extension took over for an additional 37 weeks.
Wigent said that the numbers of those on public assistance fluctuate dramatically during the year. "We have peaks and valleys."
He anticipated that, during this year, there could be 30,000 to 35,000 Wood County residents receiving some form of assistance "for at least a day during that calendar year."
Some people, he said, receive benefits for a very brief period, while others "are on for years depending on the circumstances."
Wigent predicted that the impact of the loss of federal benefits could potentially be small in Wood County.
"We haven't been in the situation recently," he said. "My instinct is that it won't have too much of an impact on our operation because of the numbers of people involved and the fact that a lot of those folks get themselves into living situations where they may not apply for assistance even though they lose their unemployment benefits."
There are numerous variables involved, he said.
"The fact that it (federal benefits) ends may not change enrollment status, but may change the benefits you get. Part of the other variable is the Affordable Care Act, which has people, at least on the Medicaid side of things, able to get benefits more easily from the Medicaid programs than they would have been able to."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:48

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